I’m taking a break this week from the Creative Intersections posts that I’ve been working on. It is just a break — I’m enjoying writing them, and the response to them has been positive, so I fully intend to continue the series on and off throughout the year. But there are other things I would like to do with my time here at MW, and today I introduce another one of them.
We — my fellow writers and I — often post about some aspect of writing or another, and then ask you, our readers, to share something of yours with the rest of us. We then offer a quick critique of what you’ve done that (we hope) will prove helpful as you move forward with your WIP. Well, today I would like to post the opening graphs of my current WIP along with a brief description of what [...]
Continue reading Turnabout is Fair Play: Your Turn to Critique MY Work
I’ve been staring at my computer screen for close to an hour, trying to figure out what to write for this week’s post. Every idea I come up with seems to be something that one of my MW colleagues or I have written about recently. This is one of the problems with writing a weekly post for a focused blog site like MW. With my personal blogs, if I’m bored with writing about writing, I can write about baseball or my kids or politics. I can’t really do that here. So what to do.
Well, my solution for this week is to write about ALL the ideas I came up with as I tried to find a topic. Instead of writing 800 to 1,000 words on one subject, I’m going to write a couple of hundred on several. You’re free to respond to any or all of them.
1. First [...]
Continue reading On Writing: Potpourri — First Lines, Short Fiction, Dialogue
[originally posted at kalayna.com]
Some would argue that the only line in a book more important than the first is the very last line. I’m not sure I would go that far, but as a reader, I know I’ve been sold by an opening line in the past.
When I’m in a bookstore, browsing, the very first thing that draws me to a book is the cover. They always say not to judge a book by its cover, but marketers aren’t stupid so different genres tend to have their own ‘look’. By designing covers which look ‘the same but different’ within a genre, the marketing people have conditioned readers to gravitate to books that display certain visual elements. Once the cover has done its job and urged me to pick up the book, I flip it over and scan the back blurb. Now, you must understand I don’t actually read the [...]
Continue reading on opening lines and hooking the reader
Continuing the “Back to Basics” series, I would like to use today’s post to focus on the opening lines of our novels. Yes, I know: I’m not exactly moving in order here; rather, I’m jumping around a bit, talking about research, submissions, writing to a certain length, etc. To be honest, I’m choosing my topics week to week, essentially on a whim. I also realize that opening lines is not exactly a new topic; we’ve touched on this before. And we will again, I’m sure. But today I would like to try talking about book and story openings in a slightly different way. I can never tell if using examples from my own work helps or not, but that’s what I’m going to do here. Hopefully they’ll serve as illustrations for what I’m trying to convey.
Let me begin with a confession: I obsess over the first lines of my [...]
Continue reading Back to Basics, part VIII: Opening Lines
Everyone knows that a good opening can make or break a submission. With busy agents and editors getting literally hundreds of submissions a week, you want to be sure to grab their attention right away and never surrender it. I hear far too often in pitches, “but the story really starts….” In the famous words of Lewis Carroll, “Begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end, then stop.” It seems so obvious, and yet, beginnings are not always so easy to identify. Do you start with murder or motive? Action or voice? Scene-setting or dialogue?
While there are no hard and fast rules, I’m going to give you some general dos and don’ts. Remember, anything done amazingly well can break the rules. However, it’s much easier for a New York Times bestseller of years and years experience to get away with. All that said, it’s [...]
Continue reading Beginnings
Over the past two weeks we’ve discussed the preparatory stages of writing our novels. We began with the research, worldbuilding, character development, and, for those who choose to do so, plot outlines that we do at the outset. Last week we talked about establishing voice at different levels — Authorial, Genre, Book, Character. This week, we’re going to start our book.
Last week, my discussion of voice overlapped with Catie’s posts on the same subject. This week I’m overlapping with Faith a bit in talking about book openings. Again, I think that having multiple perspectives on any of these topics is a good thing. We all approach writing differently, and what works for one of us might not work for another.
I often refer to myself as “an inertial writer.” [Inertia: a body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion, unless acted [...]
Continue reading Writing Your Book, part III: The Opening Pages