Category Archives: First Line

Monday, Monday

Every time I start a new semester, I get behind. When you add behind to behind to behind what you get is me. Someone who can’t seem to catch up, no matter what.

Here is a writing exercise for you so you don’t get as far behind as me. You can take this experience of mine, find your own that is similar, and write an incident that can fit in your book.

My best friend’s shoes are in my closet. A pair of his jeans in a drawer. He’s been dead just over a year.

“Do you want me to take these?”I ask him. He’s in a hospital bed. He can’t speak. SO he nods. I gather the shoes, the pants. “I’ll take these until you’re better.”

And here’s this article from my dear friend Trent Reedy. what do you think?

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/how-to-write-100-000-words-per-day-every-day?utm_source=nextdraft&utm_medium=email

 

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Filed under Exercises, First Line, Life, Uncategorized

Monday Challenge Hint(s)

Do you know where this book is headed? By now you should have an idea. If you’re stuck, write scenes. One scene an hour.

What have you learned about your main character?

Who has surprised you most in this writing process–as far as characters? People you’re working with? Living with?

We’re two weeks in. Have you written one hour each day? Do you miss the time if you don’t write? Are you thinking about your novel on off hours?

 

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Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, First Line, Kyra, Life, Plot, Writing Marathon, writing process

Sketchbook Summer (and Writing?)

Over on Facebook, my friend Matthew S Armstrong is challenging artists to draw every day for one month. All this month of July! Fill a sketchbook!

Yes!

My youngest is doing this. So far, so good. She shows me each evening.

This month of July I want to–again–write one first line of a new book everyday. Five minutes to do it. Great opening lines. If it takes less than five minutes, I can write line 2, 3, 4. But it can’t take longer. Five minutes to get something new on the page, daily.

Remember Richard Peck? You’re no better than your first line? That opening is a key. The entryway.

As I have done this first line on a new novel before (three minutes to write them then!), I’ve found I need a few moments to think. Think about what I might want this book to be, otherwise I can’t do it. Not for 30 days straight. I don’t often start an idea with a line of writing.

I read somewhere that the opening line of a book should have voice, a little bit of mystery and character in it. Can you do that with each start?

That opening is also a promise of what is to come. It’s exciting!

So join in. With Matthew or me or both of us.

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Filed under CLW, First Line, Life, Voice

Heartbreak at 36–When Life Doesn’t Go the Way You Hoped

(Are these titles bringing in more readers?)

(Can you believe we are at #36?)

Emotion grounds our reader in such a way that the reader should be changed at the end of the book. It is our duty, as writers, to allow the reader to feel. We do that by putting emotion on the page.

Once, many years ago, I asked a few amazing writers, how they put emotion on the page so that their books rang true-so they felt like real life. Jerry Spinelli said this:

“You need to experience that emotion yourself. You don’t have to be experiencing it as you’re actually writing, but you need to be able to tap the keg where the memory of it resides and, so far as you are able, relive it.”

Martine Leavitt gave me this advice: “Create a powerful story, and you will create powerful emotion. Novice writers sometimes try to spoonfeed their readers the emotion they want them to feel, but language has the great knack of diminishing emotion. Put an emotion into words and you will undoubtedly drain it of power. All you must do is write a great story, a story full of love, honor, pity, pride, compassion and sacrifice (Faulkner’s six), and your reader will feel every emotion you want her to feel.”

David Gifaldi answered the question this way:

“For me, emotion comes only when I have become close enough to the character
to feel what he/she feels at every turn in the story.”
#36
List important events in your story.
What do you feel as you write these parts?
How do you want your reader to feel?
How does your character feel?
Are you getting the emotion across?
How?
How can you de better?
Do you have Faulkner’s six in your story?
Do you know how your character feels at every turn?
Are you tapping into your memory keg?

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Filed under CLW, Exercises, First Line, Life, Plot, Voice, writing process

Sexy Sexy Sexy Review

I heard if you give your posts good titles, you get more views.

Woot!

We may go up to TEN readers!

#33

Are you doing your one first line per day?

I’ve found having a slight idea helps me know what to write. Getting better at just saying anything and then thinking where the book may head. But I like having an idea and writing to that.

How many first lines do you have?

How many are great?

How many will lead somewhere?

 

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Filed under CLW, First Line, Life, Plot, Revision, writing process

Prompt

# 24

Write 25 first lines for your novel.

Jot them down quickly (you already have a first line, and you’re working on a book, so you know where you’re going–this will be an easy exercise), a minute or less per line.

That first line is a promise to your reader. It can show voice, hint at character and plot, show mood and it certainly should grab the reader.

So what are you doing with YOUR book opening?

Remember, Richard Peck (LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO, A YEAR DOWN YONDER) says, “You are no better than your first line.”

Once Richard read the first few pages of my novel that is under consideration right now. “You don’t have your best first line,” he said. He was right. I chopped off the first paragraph AND learned a valuable lesson from a great writer.

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Filed under First Line, Life, Publication, Revision, Uncategorized, Voice

Thursday Prompt

# 19

I just challenged one of my writing friends to this writing activity.

Now I will challenge you all.

At the beginning of the day,

each day,

before you write,

set a timer for three minutes, then write the first line of a new work.

A new picture book, a new short story, a new YA novel, memoir, poem, piece of nonfiction, etc.

That’s all.

Just one line.

Keep each one on a 3X5 card.

If emotions comes along with that line, jot them down on the back. A few ideas follow?Put those notes on the back, too. When the timer beeps, you stop writing and go to your WIP.

Put the 3X5 card next to your computer and watch the pile grow.

Let’s do this until WIFYR on June 12. We’ll get about 30 starts. Take off a day or two, if you want (I try to take the weekend).

On your mark, get set,

Let’s go!

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Filed under CLW, Exercises, First Line, writing process