cj Sez: CONGRATULATIONS TO THE DETERMINED MILLIONS!
(From Sisters In Crime … their Facebook site press release):
That's how many words were reported from participants of our #SinC50K #NaNoWriMo challenge in November! Congratulations, everyone!
Let's talk a bit about opening lines, and the importance of a good, inviting opening line, opening paragraph, or opening chapter.
There’s a lot of advice that says start a story in the middle of a drama, some captivating situation. This is the hook with which a writer can snag the reader’s, or agent’s, interest.
Ken Follet, in The Pillars of the Earth, starts off with “The small boys came early to the hanging.” Wouldn’t you want to find out more?
One of my personal favorites is from Prison Letters, Corrie ten Boom’s memoir of her time in a WWII concentration camp: “From time to time, I wrote short sketches on scraps of paper.”
In a 2013 interview with Joe Fassler, Stephen King said: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story.” He goes on to say, “For me a good opening sentence really begins with voice.” He thinks readers are drawn to the story because of the voice of the writer.
In the opening-line examples above, I believe you can get a good sense of the author’s voice, how the rest of the story is going to be told.
Authors know (for sure) that introductory lines are hard to write. They also generally change as the writer gets further into the story. King, himself, said it used to take him months or even years to settle on an opening line. (I doubt it takes him years now, considering how prolific and masterful a writer he is.) He also said, “A really bad first line can convince me not to buy a book—because, god, I’ve got plenty of books already—and an unappealing style in the first moments is reason enough to scurry off.”
Wow, would I hate that. All those hours and months wasted because I blew the first line. I try to develop first lines that fit both the story and the genre.
Here’s my first line for my romantic suspense (ala Jane Bond-style) Deadly Star:
“I am not going to die; I am not going to die.”
And for Choosing Carter:
Bryn McKay’s body ricocheted off the passenger door as the pickup, engine roaring, veered from one side of the Colorado mountain road to the other.
For the untitled detective mystery I’ve just finished:
“We bury our dead alive, don’t we?”
Do you start your stories in an active scene? Are you in narrative voice? Please make sure the opening is not in backstory.
With this year of turmoil coming to a close, I’ve been thinking of people and places I miss. Coincidences being what they are, someone posted this question on Facebook: When you think of home, what do you think of?
What I think of is sitting around the kitchen table harmonizing on old hymns with my sisters and my mother. I think of childhood-me sleeping with the window open under a warm blanket in the chill of a starry July night in West Texas. Precious and happy memories.
When you think of home, what do you think of?
Books are Christmas gifts that keep on giving year-round, and anthologies are even better because there’s more than one story to read. With that in mind, let me help you out with a wonderful gift idea: Seven short stories for less than a buck!
Better yet, it’s a two-fer: Buy a book and part of the proceeds benefit the Acadiana Writing Project.
HOMEROOM HEROES joins HOMETOWN HEROES and FINALLY HOME as the third in a series of anthologies published by Bienvenue Press benefiting various charities. All are free on Kindle Unlimited.
From paranormal to contemporary to historical, there's something in all three anthologies to fill everyone with the spirit of the season. Look for them on Amazon and other fine book sellers.
§§That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.
P.S. My stand-alone suspense novels are out of print on Amazon, but The Haunted Bookshop has signed copies in stock. TO ORDER my autographed books or any book of your choice on-line from a favorite, indie bookstore, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us