Danger! Will Robinson! Danger!

Okay everyone–already we have had had quite a few submissions for Project Writeway. In fact, I had just posted a note on Ann Dee’s write up of the contest and two people submitted.

So, here’s what I have to say.
You can only enter the contest one time per challenge, so take your time.
Read through what you have.
Ask yourself these questions–
Is this beginning THE very best you have ever written?
Could this be tweaked?
Are you so close to your work that you don’t see the flaws?
Could someone give your contest submission a quick read-through?
Are you wasting words? Not using enough words? Are you trying to do too much? Are you writing the opening too slowly or too quickly as far as pacing goes?

Once, a million years ago, Richard Peck spoke here in Utah. And I was his driver and got to talk to him. I was in heaven. It was great spending time with one of my favorite writers.
Anyway, when he spoke to a packed audience he said (and this is from memory from a million years ago), “You’re no better than your first line.”
Of course he meant was we need to start with a line that grabs the reader.

At one point, Richard looked at two pages of an unpublished middle grade novel I’d written. “I like so much of this,” he said, “but this isn’t your best first line.”
I took the piece home and realized that the best line was just one or two sentences down. I chopped away that first line or two and then I had it, a great first line, hidden in the words.

Richard said a lot of terrific things that day to me and during his speeches. But what I came away with (and this has evolved over the years since his visit as I have written and rewritten and rerewritten and rererewritten and . . .) is that every word is important.

Many of today’s books would tell you differently, that only story matters.
And maybe if publication at all costs is your desire, that’s true for you.
But I think that writing is more than that. It’s the perfect start, the best word choice and a strong story line.
It’s writing and rewriting and rerewriting and rererewriting and . . .

So–
Take your time during this contest.
Put your best work forward.
Make every word count.
And, most of all, have fun!

PS Even if you are eliminated, continue to Play at Home (we’ll tell you how). There’s a prize for the Play at Home winner, too!
Plus a few give-aways.
And schtuff!
Yippee ti yi yo!

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Danger! Will Robinson! Danger!

  1. *frantically revising first sentences*

  2. Great post, Carol.

    With all the workshops I’ve been to, I think Richard’s words stuck in my brain the best. Especially the bit about writing a really great first line. I think we could have set him up in a commune and I’d have sat at his feet all day listening to his pearls of wisdom. *deep sigh*

    Well, I’m a big chicken so, I doubt I’ll be entering (I know….go ahead and boo me….) but I’m looking forward to seeing what others submit. This is such a fun idea!

  3. Andrea

    I am a huge chicken too, but the pen name thing is making me brave enough to try. I’m glad you gave us a few days to pull this first one together, though, because it’s going to take me a while. I’m so slow!

    Thanks for the words of wisdom.

  4. Who’s Will Robinson? Do you mean Robinson Crusoe? Or Swiss Family Robinson? Or Robinson Hood?

    • Denece

      You sweet young thing, I, your oldest blogee, approaching my 112 th birthday, remember asking if I could have the bumbling babbling space robot warning me of evil, for christmas. (and Anastasia did survive and move to virginia where we buried the Russian jewels together, told me i could have them when i turned 112, but i can’t where we buried them , but I do remember that Will Robinson was cute, and the MDQ’s answer was Yes :-). )

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