I thought Aim for the Heart, Chapter 4, Write Inviting Leads, was a mixed bag (cliché intended). There are definitely some helpful and important lessons in this chapter then I thought the author, Al Tompkins, just started airing his grievances and pet peeves about writing. But the good stuff is helpful and appropriately stresses the importance of the lead.
I found it interesting there was an emphasis on the lead setting up a conflict. What I also gleaned from this chapter is, again, writing is thinking. You could have a ton of notes and pore over them and get buried by them but it helps to step back from the story, think it through, envision the main point and type it out. It was refreshing to read that since that’s what I already do when starting a story so it was reassuring that I may in fact be doing something important correctly - if that makes sense.
It was also nice to read that you don’t have to tell the whole story in the lead but you should at least try to hook the audience. Then the chapter got a little weird with its theory of human motivation tangent, but it was also weirdly helpful.
Further reading in the chapter confused me a bit and it took me awhile to figure out that most of the writing tips are geared toward TV writing and not necessarily print writing, like the “attribution before action” part. Then Tompkins launches into a diatribe on cliché writing, but I do like his tips on breaking cliché story frames and writing with precise language.
Aim for the Heart, Chapter 5, Verbs and Adjectives - good stuff. I liked a couple key things from this chapter: Use strong, active verbs and use objective adjectives instead of subjective. When it comes to adjectives, I like to think of it as almost using nouns as adjectives, that way it makes the adjective objective, or at least it feels that way.
Also helpful: Make sure your writing is specific and write with “who did what” in mind.
Again, I’m happy to see/read that I’m already employing many of Tompkins’ tips in my own writing.