First Five Pages Checklist

The first five pages of your book are so important. As aspiring authors, we are well aware of their significance. And we place so much time and emphasis on getting them right. While we probably have a fair idea of what to do and not do in our first five pages, here is a quick recap of things to keep in mind when looking at the start of your novel.

Important questions to ask yourself:

Does the first line engage your reader?

Is your main character properly introduced?

Has the POV and narration style been made clear to the reader?

Does your reader get a good feel for the world – i.e. have you set the status quo?

Have you established your main character’s deepest desire?

Is there an inciting incident?

The most important thing to avoid at the beginning of your novel:

The information dump. 

Your reader is only starting to get to know your main character and within these pages, so you don’t want to overwhelm them with backstory or world building information so early on. Remember, you’ve got a minimum of 80,000 words to work with, you can take your time introducing the important background information. 

Author Interview with Emily S. Hurricane

We had a chance to interview an author in the Love At First Sip anthology. The collection provides a drink recipe in front of the short story associated with it.


  1. What inspired you to start writing?

You know, I don’t even remember! I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote a lot of fan fiction when I was a kid for various JRPGs, so a lot of my early original stories were warriors in fantasy or science fiction worlds. I also did a lot of online roleplaying back then. I’m totally aging myself, but back on proboards, I’d spend hours with other users creating characters and worlds and then RPing our characters. So as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been writing.

  1. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Two things: proper grammar, and engaging characters. There can be literally nothing happening in a story, but if the characters are interesting and engaging, then I am sold! I am a reader of many genres and styles, but what is most memorable to me is always certain characters and their inner workings and struggles. World building and act structure and everything else that goes into a story are important, but if I don’t care about the characters, the book falls flat for me. And of course, you know, it’s got to be readable.

  1. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?

I’m a bit of a pantser, so I do most of my non-writing part of writing a story as I go. When I have a fresh plot bunny hop its way into my head, I tend to let it percolate for a while in there to take shape. It’s almost always a character, desperate to tell their story, so I let them talk to me for a bit. Sometimes I’ll make a few notes before I jump in, but often I like to get to know my character(s) before I try to plan where the story is going to take them, so I tend to just start writing.

I use Notion for all of my outlining and character sheets and planning and word count tracking, so I do set up a blank page for a fresh project. Any notes go in there, and then as I start writing, I create tables as I need them to track characters, potential plot points, outlining, etc.

  1. Who is your favorite author and why?

I know this is totally cliché, but Stephen King is my very favorite. Aside from the fact that he’s incredibly versatile, he’s got this subtle style that I adore. Even some of his novels that aren’t outwardly HEY I’M SCARY just have this underlying sense of dread (for example, Duma Key) throughout and I don’t even realize I’m creeped out until I finish reading. He also has such talent for so many different facets of genre, with more boundary-pushing work like the Dark Tower series. He just does whatever TF he wants, and I admire that so much.

(Close runner-ups for favorite, though: Chuck Palahniuk and Margaret Atwood. Gotta shout them out too!)

  1. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Time! There is just never enough time. I work from home as a freelance writer and editor, while also taking care of two small children and my husband who works outside of the home full time. Juggling all of this and also trying to do basic things like sleep is very challenging. I love a challenge, but some days it’s harder than others to fit everything in, so it can be stressful. But I love writing too much to ever do anything else with my life. It’s 100% worth the blood, sweat, and tears I put into it!

  1. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I don’t think I have any interesting writing quirks! I’m kinda basic when it comes to writing. I like to have coffee and munchies and relish the silence—when I can work without Peppa Pig or My Little Pony in the background, it’s so nice!

  1. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Too many! My muse has no focus for genre, and because I enjoy reading in so many, I enjoy writing in them all too. I’ve got a ton of erotica shorts in various niches, a historical western romance trilogy, a dystopian werewolf series, horror anthologies, a fantasy/sci-fi series, some contemporary serials, dark romance serials, and most recently, I curated and participated in two anthologies, one erotica and one clean romance.

It’s so hard to say which is my favorite…I loved writing them all for different reasons. I think I’m most proud of Joy, which is a literary novella that currently lives on Wattpad. I originally wrote it for the Open Novella Contest, where it won a few accolades. Eventually I plan to let it breathe and flesh it out some, outside of the constraints of the contest. But I don’t think I can properly choose a favorite out of my books.

  1. Are you working on anything at present you would like to share with your readers?

I’m currently serializing a dark paranormal romance on Radish Fiction called Her Tyrant Alpha, and I’m having a blast with it! It’s a spin-off companion book to my Bloodlines series (which is dystopian werewolf with a bit of steam, but not romance), and the main character, Ashelin, has pretty much zero boundaries. It’s been a super fun ride exploring all of her inner workings, and also building more werewolf lore into the Bloodlines universe.

  1. What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

I get asked this a lot, and my answer is always to just write! Write as much as you can. Even if you think it sucks. Hell, even if other people think it sucks. Don’t stop! Write every day. Even if you can only manage a sentence because you have no time, don’t go a single day without writing. Tapping that creative keg takes working the writing muscle, and you have to work it out every single day. It might be hard for a bit, but all good things are, and if you stick with it, it will get easier, and you will get better at it!

Sub-advice: don’t be afraid of criticism! Don’t let it get you down, and don’t let it stop you. If the criticism is useful, take what you need out of it to learn, and discard the rest, and keep writing. Always be writing!

Sub-sub-advice: track your word count. Even if you only write three words in one day. Use a notebook or a spreadsheet or a calendar, but record your daily word counts somewhere. This gives you accountability to make sure that word count isn’t at zero, but also you can watch yourself improve over time. And I promise you will improve!

  1. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing or playing with my kiddos, I am either reading, baking, or crocheting. And usually two out of three at the same time, haha! If I’m going to be busy with my hands then I’ll queue up an audiobook so I can still read even if I’m puttering in the kitchen or playing with yarn.

I’ve been known to enjoy video games too, but with work and small children it’s harder to carve out time to really get lost in a game. I do enjoy building stuff in Minecraft with my daughter, though. Anything creative!

  1. Where can readers learn more about you?

The easiest way to find me is at www.emilyshurricane.com! I keep it up to date with all of my book listings, and if you click the Social Media tab you can find all of my socials everywhere across the internet (including my Discord server!).

5 Tips for NaNoWriMo Preptober

If you reach out to the NaNoWriMo community, you will receive plenty of support to get you through the writing craze. Let the creativity flow and have fun!

1. Schedule

To make sure you meet the 50,000 word count requirement at the end of the thirty days, there are different approaches. You may plan to write 1,667 words daily, but the most important thing to remember is that life happens. Try to plan your schedule as neatly and accurately as possible while designating some additional time for the unexpected.

2. Outline

Having an outline (no matter how rough) will help prevent the need for brainstorming timeline events and alleviates rewrites. For our pantsers, a handful of sentences ordered chronologically is a great start.

3. Organize

If you have scribbled notes or multiple documents everywhere, condense and organize them. This way looking up information you need to refer back to (character/location descriptions, etc.) is quick and easy. This refers to your workspace as well. Clear the area of anything you will not need during the process.

4. Tasks

To avoid overworking or guilting yourself about other projects, aim to complete any immediate unrelated tasks that will interfere with NaNoWriMo.

5. Mindset

You can prepare your schedule and workspace, but your mindset will be the most important tool to achieve your goal. Remember to turn off your inner editor. It’s easy to edit a full page versus a blank one. Most importantly, remember to breathe. There will be plenty of time after to edit and mold the story into perfection. NaNoWriMo is solely to meet the 50,000 word count mark within thirty days.

Planning a Whole Month of Social Media Posts

Being a professional writer in any capacity comes with a side of marketing, whether we like it or not. Whether we are traditionally published or self-published, all authors will be expected to do their own marketing. Social media has become almost essential for writers. If you don’t have a following, how will you reach potential readers? While it seems like a scary concept – putting yourself out there on social media, especially if you’re more introverted – it can really have a great pay off for your writing career. But being on social media means you have to come up with interesting and varied content to share with your followers. And I have some tips for how to plan out a whole month of social media content. 

Use a Content Calendar

The best way to start planning content is to get organized. And you can get organized by using a spreadsheet or Google Calendar to list out your entire publishing schedule. That way you can see when you have a book launch or promo event coming up, and from there you can begin planning out your content for the month. 

Pick Your Social Networks

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be on every single social media network that there is. However, whichever ones you do chose to promote yourself on, you should be frequently active and engaging with your readers. And if you are using more than one social network, it is advised that you make a space on your calendar for each social media profile that you’re planning to post on, that way you can keep track of your content. 

Posting Frequency

It is entirely up to you if you’re going to be posting once a day, twice a week, or several times a month. Either way, try to be consistent in your posting schedule. Also, don’t be afraid to repurpose your content across different platforms in order to save yourself time and energy. Granted, you will want to use an organizational tool to help you plan out your strategy.

Content Pillars

Content pillars are basically the subcategories for your social media posts. These can be such things as behind the scenes, book promotions, writer memes, etc. Once you’ve come up with what these content pillars, you can go about planning out your calendar for the month. Usually it’s a good idea to have at least 3 to 5 different ones that you share across different social media platforms according to your publishing schedule. 

Tips for Outlining

When it comes to writing a manuscript, there is one practice that is essential: outlining. The process of outlining helps us to stay focused and on track with our WIP. If we outline our story, it can also help keep us going whenever we experience the inevitable writer’s block in the middle of our work. 

Outlining All at Once versus Outlining as You Go

There are pros and cons to both outlining all at once or outlining as you go. When it’s all at once, you have a very clear idea of how the entire story will pan out. Granted, this doesn’t leave your plot a whole lot of flexibility. When you outline as you go, you gain a bit more plot flexibility. But planning out the next chapter or scene as you write it means that you might end up with more plot holes appearing in your work that you will then have to fix later on. 

Separate Docs

When it comes to outlining, some of us might be tempted to make our outlines in the same document as our WIP. But it can sometimes be helpful to have an entirely different document for your outline, particularly if it’s going to be very detailed. This helps to keep your actual work from getting jumbled up. 

Apps and Programs

There are various different apps and other programs that you can use to organize your work into an outline. Of course, you should do your research on the different apps and programs available, so you can pick the right one with the features that you work for you.