Hooks are how the story grabs the reader’s attention and keeps it page after page. Entertaining and surprising them, forming an emotional connection between them, the story, and its characters.
Infodumping is the number one cause of readers skimming a story. It causes the story to drone on and on, explaining everything and leaving nothing to the imagination. It tells the readers things they already know, either from the story or common knowledge. And bores the readers by repeating information and not allowing them to connect to the story or the characters.
Too much backstory can bring a story’s pace to a standstill, bogging it down in insignificant details of a character’s past, world-building elements, or history of the current conflict. It supplies information outside the scope of the story the reader does not need to know and often leaves little to the imagination. It steals all secrets and surprises, leaving the reader to drown in boredom because they already know everything ahead of time. But that doesn’t mean all backstory is bad.
A well-told story is a combination of showing and telling. As readers, we want to experience the story through the main character’s eyes, but we don’t want to get bogged down in details we don’t care about. After all, it’s much easier to skim through to find the more interesting bits. But we also don’t want to be told why something is happening. We want to see it happen. Showing and telling both have their place in a story. So, how do we know which to use?
Every voice is unique. The words we use, sentence length and structure, pacing and rhythm, tone, our use of description or lack thereof. You’ll never find two people who talk exactly the same. We all see the world in a different light, and the way we describe it to others is defined by our background and life experiences.
Your story's ending is the final determination of whether the reader will go on to read more of your books or move on to another writer. The more compelling your ending, the more likely the reader will buy your next book.
The middle of a story can be one of the hardest parts to write. It can be challenging to keep the middle interesting enough for your readers to finish the story as it begins to drag into predictability and they start wishing it would get to the end already. To combat this, we need to give our midpoint as much importance as we do the other plot points.
Beginnings need to cover a lot of material in a short space of time. But we don't want to slow the story to the point of the readers losing interest. The readers want a story, not background noise. And a slow beginning is a lot easier to walk away from, than later when the reader's already read half the book or more.
The opinion among writers today is the prologue is unnecessary and detracts from the story. But that doesn't mean the prologue has gone extinct. It still serves a purpose when used correctly.
Almost everyone gets writer's block. Whether it is finding the right words, fleshing out a scene, or knowing what to write next. It's simply part of the process, and we all face it at some point. Stressing over it can make it even harder to get past. So, why let it bother you?