I must admit that at first I was a little skeptical, but hey, I’m not published yet so what did I have to lose? I’m not quite finished with it yet, but after I got a little over halfway finished, I couldn’t wait to apply what I knew to a novel I’d been working on.
Story Engineering has been quite helpful, actually.
I learned that in my effort to have the inciting incident right up front—which is what I understood that I should do from reading other books on writing—it set my pacing off. While we (as writers) need to have an interesting and enticing first chapter, it does not need to be the inciting incident.
What the first chapter needs to do most is introduce us to the main character in such a way that we, as readers, will want to invest our time in finding out what happens to him/her.
The things that we (as writers) include in our writing should always have something to do with the novel at hand. In other words, don’t include a scene with the MC (or anyone) having a great day at the amusement park if it has nothing to do with anything. If we want to include the scene at the amusement park, then we need to add something to make it relevant—one of the characters meets someone there, or something happens on one of the rides, etc.
We do need to have the “1st and 2nd doors of no return” (so named by James Scott Bell), as well as a midway turning point where the character’s focus changes. As well as a plethora of other little interesting tidbits along the way to set them up and support them.
While I’m no Orson Scott Card or Stephanie Meyer, or JK Rowling, hopefully one day I will find my way into this literary world.