First Chapter Checklist for your Frasier Entry

Is it ready?  I know that it’s hard as a writer to know if your first chapter is ready for the eyes of a reader – whether it be an editor or agent….or a judge for the Frasier.  I know because I go through the same angst every time I write a book.  Thankfully, I send it off to my writing partner, Rachel Hauck, and she’s brutally and sweetly honest with me. 

And now I’m going to help you be brutally and sweetly honest with yourself by giving you a Super Secret Frasier First Chapter Checklist.

These are things that you need to make sure you’re communicating in the first chapter.

1.       Have you created sympathy for your character so we love them?

2.      Have you shown us your character’s home life, so we know where their journey begins?

3.      Have you shown us your character’s competence, and their identity?

4.      Have you given us a glimpse of your characters greatest dream?

5.      Have you given us a hint of your character’s greatest fear?

6.      Have you given us a hint at your character’s spiritual lie?

7.      Have you set the mood of the book (suspense/mystery/fantasy, women’s fiction, rom-com, romance, etc). 

8.      Have you delivered the story question that will drive us through the book?

9.      Do you have crisp, interesting dialogue?

10.   Have you honed your hook to include the Who, What, Why, When and Where’s of the story?

11.    Do you have sufficient storyworld?

12.   Have you used the five senses?

13.   Have you shown us the story in active voice?  

14.   Have you used specific nouns and vivid verbs to add emotion to the story?

15.   Finally, have you ended the scene with a disaster, or something that makes the reader want to turn the page? 

If you have any questions on any of these, look in the MBT Blog Archieves.  (and if you can’t find them in the archives, go ahead and post them on the Frasier Questions discussion at My Book Therapy Voices. )

Only 10 days left until the deadline for the Frasier Contest!  For more details go Here!


Okay, that didn’t hurt that much, did it? 

Susie May




But I’m so broken inside…

Yesterday, we talked out the PLOT or EXTERNAL Obstacles (Why Nots) that keep our characters apart.  The point of a great romance is for love to overcome the obstacles and triumph!  So, without obstacles….well, there’s no story. 


I’ll say it again.  YOU MUST HAVE EXTERNAL OBSTACLES!  (Yes, that was shouting).


Now that we have that settled…let’s turn to the Internal Reasons why we (and our characters) run from love.  This is the easy part.  We can all come up with a long list of the reasons why we are unloveable.  Our sins, our flaws, or fears, our idiosyncrasies….you name it.  It’s a wonder we don’t all live in an igloo. 


The problem with finding internal obstacles is often authors either;

1.       Pick too many or…

2.      Focus on ONLY the internals as the obstacles to love.  This is very circular and myopic.  Just sayin’. 


 We pick too many obstacles because they are so easy to pick! We just climb inside the skin of our character and say….why won’t she love you?  Let the bemoaning begin!   So…how do we solve this problem? 


Obviously…well, well pick ONE.  One Big Why Not.  One Big Why Not that has many facets. One Big Why Not that has many facets that is built off of a wound in your character’s past.  One wound, from one event.  One event that they can then share with the heroine when the time is right.


Here are some possible woundings that might create internal Why Nots:


“I am afraid of love because my mother left me on my aunt’s doorstep when I was six.  I still remember her driving away.  Thus, I am afraid of abandonment.”


“I drove drunk when I was seventeen, and got into an accident that killed my high school sweetheart.  I’m afraid to love because everyone I love gets hurt.” 


“The man I loved got me pregnant and left me the sophomore year of college.  I am afraid of loving because I know I’ll be rejected and left with the pieces of my future.” 


See…if you create an event in your characters past, something that leaves a deep wound, then your character will do anything not to be wounded in this way again, and thus, will walk around trying to protect themselves.  Including turning their back on True Love if they think they’ll get hurt. 


How do you find that wound? 


Ask your character:  What is the worst thing that ever happened to you (preferably romantically, but it can be anything that involves the heart) and what wound did it leave?


Make sure, remember, that it is an actual event, something they can tell the heroine (or hero) later.  I often see people use general events – eg: my character comes from a broken home, so he’s afraid of love.  That’s a starting place, but I always push them to find a singular event inside that overall situation that epitomizes their wound.  And that, most of all, it is compelling enough to create a wound in the first place.  It makes for a heartbreaking and poignant scene when they share it with the one they love.


And for triumph when they are loved….anyway!


Going back to your favorite movies, what Internal Why Nots keep your hero and hero apart?  Go over to and add your voice to the discussion of Why/Why Not! 


Everyone who leaves a comment will be eligible to receive a copy of my new book, Sons of Thunder!


Winners will be announced on Monday!  Have a great weekend!

Susie May


 Don’t forget to enter The Frasier! My Book Therapy’s Story-crafting Contest.  You could win a free retreat and great recognition in the publishing world!  Deadline:  March 31st.  Details HERE!


Why can’t you love me, baby?

Last month we spent a lot of time on our hero and heroine – and why they fall in love.


This month, as we ponder what goes into writing a romance, we’re going to talk about why they can’t fall in love.


First, let’s talk about romance for a second…falling in love is amazing. Regardless of your age, when you find that one you love, it stirs an breathlessness, an awakening in us that our beloved would…well, love us.  Because, frankly, now one but you know why he or she shouldn’t.  Right?  You think:  if he or she only knew the truth, they go running. 


But, eventually they do find out the truth…  And they stay.  And that’s what makes true love even more breathtaking. 


Add to that the little sacrifices we make for the ones we love, and pretty soon is…well, it’s  romance novel! 


But the fact is, without a few struggles, true love isn’t tested.  Remember your first big fight?  I’ll bet you bemoaned with your friends and said, “That’s it. So-an-so hates me.” 


Which made it ever more wonderful when the one you loves shows up at the door at 1am, red-eyed…. 


In a romance novel, CONFLICT drives the story. See, without the fights and the turmoil, the story isn’t interesting.  And most of all, True Love can’t triumph….because it hasn’t had to.  Conflict is essential for a great romance.  But not just an conflict…fighting over the kind of coffee they drink, or driving too fast, or even stupid things about they way he or she did or did not look at our character from across the office is trite and unsatisfying.


No, we’re going to fight about the things that MATTER. 


In other words, our conflict is going to be focused on the true obstacles to love between them.  Something that I like to call…the WHY NOTS.


A romance novel must have both External Why Nots and Internal Why Nots.


The External Why Nots are easy – why can’t, on paper, these two be together?  Think of the external obstacles as the plot obstacles:


He works for the bank that wants to take over the family farm.

She is his new boss, and is supposed to fire him.

He opens a competing business in her town.

She’s a cop, he’s a criminal.

( I love the premise to the new Gerard Butler movie – he’s a bounty hunter, assigned to track down his wife!  Wonderful!)


Think: What real-life obstacle in the plot pushes your hero and heroine apart?



Let’s take a look at our favorite movies:


While You Were Sleeping: 

She’s his brother’s fiancé.  Or not, but then yes, she is.  So, he can’t have her. 

And, she has lied…and can’t get out of it.  These obstacles loom larger as the story plays out.


(This theme is used A LOT in movies, by the way – and it never seems to get old.  Think: Sabrina.  Or, even Maid of Honor.  The device of belonging to the wrong person…and loving the right one…)


Return to Me:

She has his dead wife’s heart.  ‘Nuf said.



Well, she’s married, isn’t she?  And it’s clear that two people’s problems don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.


Okay – so we all know those are my favorites.  So now it’s YOUR turn….


In your favorite movies, what External Why Nots keep your hero and hero apart?  Go over to and add your voice to the discussion of Why/Why Not!  Every Voice Counts!


Everyone who leaves a comment will be eligible to receive a copy of my new book, Sons of Thunder!


Tomorrow, well talk about those heartbreaking INTERNAL Why Nots!

Susie May



Don’t forget to enter The Frasier! My Book Therapy’s Story-crafting Contest.  You could win a free retreat and great recognition in the publishing world!  Deadline:  March 31st.  Details HERE!