[Guest Post]: Opening and Closing Done Right by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington, the authors of “In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon”

Today, I’m hosting not just one but two award-winning science fiction authors. Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington are talking about their latest release “In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon”. You can find my post about this new release here: https://saltandnovels.wordpress.com/2020/08/25/release-blitz-in-the-shadow-of-a-valiant-moon-by-stu-jones-gareth-worthington/

Genre: Sci-fi, dystopian, apocalyptic 

Date Published: May 22 2018

Publisher: Vesuvian Books

The world you know is dead. We did this to ourselves.

The epidemic struck at the end of the Third World War. Fighting over oil, power, and religion, governments ignored the rise of an antibacterial-resistant plague. In just five years, the Earth was annihilated. Only one city survived—Etyom—a frozen hellhole in northern Siberia, engulfed in endless conflict.

The year is 2251.

Two groups emerged from the ashes of the old world. Within the walled city of Lower Etyom dwell the Robusts—descendants of the poor who were immune to the New Black Death. Above them, in a metropolis of pristine platforms called lillipads, live the Graciles—the progeny of the superrich, bio-engineered to resist the plague.

Mila Solokoff is a Robust who trades information in a world where knowing too much can get you killed. Caught in a deal gone bad, she’s forced to take a high-risk job for a clandestine organization hell-bent on revolution.

Demitri Stasevich is a Gracile with a dark secret—a sickness that, if discovered, will get him Ax’d. His only relief is an illegal narcotic produced by the Robusts, and his only means of obtaining it is a journey to the arctic hell far below New Etyom.

Thrust together in the midst of a sinister plot that threatens all life above and below the cloud line, Mila and Demitri must master their demons and make a choice—one that will either salvage what’s left of the human race or doom it to extinction …

        

Awards:

Bronze Medal Winner — 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards — Science Fiction

  Gold (1st Place) Winner — 2019 Feathered Quill Book Awards — Science Fiction/Fantasy

 Finalist — 2018 Dragon Awards — Science Fiction

  Winner — 2018 New York Book Festival — Science Fiction

     First Place Ribbon — 2018 Chanticleer International Book Awards — Science Fiction

Purchase link: https://books2read.com/IntheShadowofaValiantMoon

Opening and Closing Done Right

by Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington

The art of opening and closing as a writer is of vital importance, but it is a skill often overlooked. Many authors labor over character, style, prose, and descriptive world building. All of these things are important – but none of them matter if your reader doesn’t keep reading.

In today’s fast-paced, on-demand, caffeine-fueled, internet culture, every entertainment option a person could possibly want is right there at their fingertips. Video games, movies, YouTube, and social media are constantly in competition, all jockeying to gain the attention of the public. Each provides it’s own unique brand of distraction and entertainment, and each can supplant the other at a moment’s notice at the whim of the consumer.

The art of opening and closing as a writer is of vital importance, but it is a skill often overlooked. Many authors labor over character, style, prose, and descriptive world building. All of these things are important – but none of them matter if your reader doesn’t keep reading.


In today’s fast-paced, on-demand, caffeine-fueled, internet culture, every entertainment option a person could possibly want is right there at their fingertips. Video games, movies, YouTube, and social media are constantly in competition, all jockeying to gain the attention of the public. Each provides it’s own unique brand of distraction an entertainment, and each can supplant the other at a moment’s notice at the whim of the consumer.


Writer’s beware: This is your competition, and if you do not move fast and seize the moment, your hard work, that story you labored over, will be lost in the swirling tide of entertainment options.

Gone are the days of the Tolkien-style rambling epic. As wonderful as they are for the patient reader, stories that begin lazily or end safely do not have the capacity to compete in an era driven by consumerism and never-ending scramble for more entertainment. What does that mean for you? Your story has to grab the reader and sink its hooks in deep. Your opening chapter has to start and end with a BANG! And the end of it, the reader must feel like they are compelled to continue. They have to know what happens next.

We agonize over our opening chapter. We write and re-write and re-work until it’s just right. After all, it’s the most important section of your book. You have to grab your reader with that very first line. Then hit them again at the end of the first paragraph. Then again at the end of the first page. All the way down to the final line of the opening chapter and the inevitable cliffhanger. Will the hero survive? Will the heist be foiled? Will the lovers reunite? Throw your readers into the middle of the action, right from the start, and never let up.


To illustrate here are the opening lines from two of our favorite projects:

“No matter how badly I want it to be different this time, in the end I still die. We all do.”
~ It Takes Death To Reach A Star

“In the darkness behind my eyelids all other senses are heightened. The murmuring of the witnesses seems deafening. Damp air clings claw-like to the nape of my neck. The stench of fear and evacuated bowels wafting from the other stalls, threatens to choke me. But above it all, the pain of betrayal, cold and fatal, stabs like the piercing edge of a blade in my heart.” ~ In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon

Notice the urgency, the intensity, right from the start. This is a trick. Its sole purpose is to hook the reader – and it works. These opening chapters end with little cliffhangers as well, in order to suspend any resolution. To draw out the tension. To cause the reader to have to read just one more chapter.

“Yet Bilgi’s words follow me, clinging to the dark recesses of my heart: We have one life to live, Mila. Use yours to make a difference.” ~ It Takes Death To Reach A Star

“Yes, my name is Death, and Hell follows with me.~ In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon

Once you’ve got your first chapter’s opening and closing honed and razor sharp, then you do it again on the next chapter and the next, until you reach the end. Don’t let up because the moment you make things too nice and comfortable, dear reader is off to check Instagram or watch cat videos. Start and end with a bang, and you’re on your way to writing great fiction.

About the authors:

A veteran law enforcement officer, Stu Jones has worked as a beat cop, an investigator, an instructor of firearms and police defensive tactics and as a member and team leader of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team. 
Gareth Worthington BSc PhD EMBA is a trained marine biologist and holds a doctorate in comparative endocrinology. Gareth works in the pharmaceutical industry helping to educate the world’s doctors on new cancer therapies.

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