by Annette Dashofy
Monday, over at my Writing, etc blog, I wrote about the next phase in the creation of my latest wip. Having finished the first draft a while ago, and having allowed it to simmer untouched for a few weeks, I’m now embarking on the second draft.
Hubby’s been away at hunting camp since Sunday (someday I may blog about being a vegetarian, Bambi-loving yoga instructor happily married to a certified gun-toting hunter, but not today), leaving me home alone with my cat and my manuscript. To alleviate the guilt of “doing nothing,” I spent my first day of solitude cleaning house. Then, on day two, I gathered together a printed out hard copy of my entire first draft, a stack of sticky notes, a legal pad, and a couple of brightly colored gel pens.
I prefer to do my edits in colored ink so they jump out at me. I tend to overlook black ink scribbles for some reason.
Anyhow, with my supplies surrounding me, I stretched out on my couch, snuggled under an afghan. Skye kitty thought this looked like fun and made her bed on my legs.
Sometimes being a writer is a rough life.
I read the thing straight through. Beginning to end. I made notes on the pages. I made notes on the legal pad. There were a couple of minor holes in the plot. And there was one major one, but I already knew about it.
Over all, I’m pleased with what I’ve got. I think it works.
Now, I’m left at square one. The worst part of the whole thing is the first two or three chapters. I need a whole new beginning. I’ve known this since I wrote the original one, hoping all this time that a more suitable opening would become evident to me once I finished the draft.
So today, as you’re reading this blog, I’ll be fretting over how to start my story. Again. Ramona, if you’re reading this, your recent poll has been enlightening. And terrifying. However, it really didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. You have to grab the reader at word one.
I fear it may take me as long to write chapter one as it took me to write the entire first draft! So while I’m fussing and fuming over an opening line and an opening sentence, how about offering me some inspiration. Do you have a favorite opening line? Post it as a comment and tell me why it grabbed you.
One of my favorite first lines is from "The Winter of Her Discontent" by former Working Stiff, Kathy Haines: "Some guys brought you flowers; Al brought meat."
Annette, my own poll freaked me out. It's obvious from the responses that I am doing several things in my opening that several readers absolutely hate--and others like a lot. Oy. I'll bet everyone else could say the same.
I just read this opening line, from Chuck Hogan's short story, "One Good One":
"Milky got home about nine that night, sweating and shivering like he had the flu."
It's a simple line, but it left me intrigued. Who is Milky? Why is he called Milky? What happened "that" night? What had he done that left him sweating and shivering, which seem to be opposites?
Good line, good job of piquing. I was hooked.
Try Janet Evanovich's One For The Money. "THERE ARE SOME MEN who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me -- not forever, but periodically."
It's intriguing, it forshadows the theme of the series and instantly you want to know more about Morelli.
Maybe I'm off base here, but I think there's a clear distinction in readers and what it takes to hold their attention.
If you want to attract the sale for the casual browser, that first paragragh, combined with the jacket copy is really important. If someone bought the book already, I think they're liable to read musch longer for you to catch them.
My favorite is still the opening line of Rebecca: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. At least, it's the only first line that sticks in my mind enough to recall.
My magic word is "honnet" - perhaps some type of bonnet with wings and a stinger?
I tried to respond to comments several times throughout the day, but my Internet kept cutting out and finally shut down all together. I'm trying again.
Joyce, that is one of my favorite opening lines, too. Gina, that opening from Rebecca is another of my faves.
Ramona, I think your poll is freaking out a lot of us. It's sure not making my attempts at a "new beginning" any easier.
Will, you're right. Every reader is different in what they look for and what it takes to grab them. You can't please all the people all the time.
Yay! Blogger finally let me in!
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