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Noveling in March - Page 3

post #41 of 129
Thanks, Erin!

I don't keep track of my word count too much, but I did enjoy seeing my book suddenly reach 60K. I just try to write, and if that means I manage to find time where I can research and brainstorm and take notes, great, and if it means I spend three hours online figuring out the distances my characters can travel in each section, great, and if it means I actually write a lot or a little, great. I'm not organized enough to be stricter with myself

I wrote last night and all of this late morning/early afternoon, and I can't go on until I review my notes and the draft of the next section, planning a major addition. So I am off to watch BSG and nap, and keep my notes next to me. That counts, right?
post #42 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
Oh, no no... what I meant is...
I have a daily word goal for writing, but not all things that I write are part of the novel itself. If we assume that the word count goal is 1000 words a day, would you give yourself a break, if you spent 600 words on the outline? Or would you expect of yourself to write 600 words in the outline AND 1000 words for the novel itself?
That's a really individual choice. I get a couple hours to write on the weekend. I just work during that time and get done what I get done.

I had my time today. Trying to pretty up the language in my novel. It's really hard work. I must have spent 10 or 15 minutes trying to come up with a metaphor that was eluding me.
post #43 of 129
I din some random outline sciribbling in a notebook today that was actually pretty productive- I'm in the middle of my re-write and I just felt like I wanted to get some form down and I had a few minutes to myself this morning.

I've been mulling this story and its characters so long, I just want it to be strong.

I heard once that Chekov said something about taking your first draft, and throw away the first ten pages. This really struck me as true when I read my draft. The first part was boring, boring boring backstory!

I'm reading a book called "Hooked" (by Les Edgerton) about starting your story strong. It says you have to start your story with a very strong, very meaningful inciting incident. Especially the first line. This caused me much stress, but I think I've got it. (I think?)

In "Hooked", the guy says the beginning should hook the readers, set the "rules" for the story and event contain some foreshadowing.

Anyone have great first lines they want to share?

Here's my new one for my book...I'm still working it a bit:

"It must be an old bar, because I can see people all over the place that aren’t here."

Now as I type for everyone to read....I'm thinking about changing it!!
post #44 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdmaze View Post
I din some random outline sciribbling in a notebook today that was actually pretty productive- I'm in the middle of my re-write and I just felt like I wanted to get some form down and I had a few minutes to myself this morning.

I've been mulling this story and its characters so long, I just want it to be strong.

I heard once that Chekov said something about taking your first draft, and throw away the first ten pages. This really struck me as true when I read my draft. The first part was boring, boring boring backstory!

I'm reading a book called "Hooked" (by Les Edgerton) about starting your story strong. It says you have to start your story with a very strong, very meaningful inciting incident. Especially the first line. This caused me much stress, but I think I've got it. (I think?)

In "Hooked", the guy says the beginning should hook the readers, set the "rules" for the story and event contain some foreshadowing.

Anyone have great first lines they want to share?

Here's my new one for my book...I'm still working it a bit:

"It must be an old bar, because I can see people all over the place that aren’t here."

Now as I type for everyone to read....I'm thinking about changing it!!
Ann Rice started a book something like "He was 6 years old when he was made a eunich." A strong hook is what is essential. I had a writing teacher that said the best way to learn to write hooks is to look at the front page of
"The Enquirer." They know how to get a readers attention.

I know when I am in the bookstore I read a paragraph. If I'm not pulled in by both the little mystery that is in the hook and if I don't like the writing style, I put the book down.

I think the hook you wrote above has potential, but it's not quite there yet. For me, I'm not sure if you're talking about ghosts or if it's just symbolic of the energy left in an old bar.
post #45 of 129
My first line is kinda useless without my second. It goes as thus:

"Why am I here?"
"My last assistant didn't re-enlist."

It's an opening conversation. I really like opening stories with dialogue. I think it works well to set up the characters & action. My current opening is a bit of a joke on the heroine's part, and the exchange gives you a good bit of insight into her character--she cracks wise throughout the book, and she & the hero riff off each other quite a bit. (They have a great conversation on exactly what the question is, when violence is the answer. )

I agree that a strong first line is a wonderful thing. BUT I'm more concerned--both as a writer & as a reader--with the first few pages of the novel overall. I don't think I've ever put a book down because it had a weak opening line. BAD opening line, yes, but not weak.

Also, I've got to say that, regardless of the conventional wisdom, I do not think it's necessary to eliminate all the flowery language from your novel. Most of it, yes, unless you are writing high fantasy. But let's all remember Anne Rice. I personally find her impenetrable, but she is an amazingly popular author, and Laurell K Hamilton also breaks a butt-ton of the rules (let's face it, Anita Blake is a total Mary Sue) and is phenomenal. Just make sure you are keeping your voice true, and you are much more likely to be compelling.
post #46 of 129
This conversation is stressing me out!

I know the importance of good opening, and I even put up the first two paragraphs on my blog to see people's reaction. I am still revisiting my beginning almost every single day, and fix it up one word, one fragment at a time.

I definitely judge the book by its "cover", or rather the first page. If I already have the book, I won't give up on it until I read a couple of chapters, but I know that there are times I have read just the first page in a book store and decided against a purchase. I am impatient, I want to be drawn straight into the story.

Here is my first line, and I don't know if it accomplishes what I want it to accomplish:

"This manuscript was found by Christopher Blake, the Chief Editor of Great Pelican Publisher, while he was walking his chocolate lab along the shoreline in Boston Harbor."
post #47 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
"This manuscript was found by Christopher Blake, the Chief Editor of Great Pelican Publisher, while he was walking his chocolate lab along the shoreline in Boston Harbor."
First, have you finished the first draft of your manuscript? If not, don't even worry about your opening line now. It may be that after you finish your first draft you find a different beginning. You may also have a really great hook come to you in a moment of inspiration. Why waste good first draft writing time on one sentence when you have a whole story to uncover?

Regarding this opening. It seems like there's a lot of facts and less mystery than you would find on the front page of the National Enquirer.

Publisher finds manuscript. Dog sucked up by alien energy beam.

Publisher finds manuscript that unleashes the mummy's curse.

Dog digs up mud covered manuscript that may hold secret of where the Lindburgh baby grew up.

I was taught to copy Hemingway. Short sentences. Your opening is 27 words and has 6 or 7 pieces of information. That's a lot of information to decipher in one sentence.

All that negativity aside, I am curious as to what type of manuscript he found. I mean, if it's so intriguing that you're going to mention it in the first sentence, it must be interesting.
post #48 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by mybabysmama View Post
First, have you finished the first draft of your manuscript? If not, don't even worry about your opening line now. It may be that after you finish your first draft you find a different beginning. You may also have a really great hook come to you in a moment of inspiration. Why waste good first draft writing time on one sentence when you have a whole story to uncover?

Regarding this opening. It seems like there's a lot of facts and less mystery than you would find on the front page of the National Enquirer.

Publisher finds manuscript. Dog sucked up by alien energy beam.

Publisher finds manuscript that unleashes the mummy's curse.

Dog digs up mud covered manuscript that may hold secret of where the Lindburgh baby grew up.

I was taught to copy Hemingway. Short sentences. Your opening is 27 words and has 6 or 7 pieces of information. That's a lot of information to decipher in one sentence.

All that negativity aside, I am curious as to what type of manuscript he found. I mean, if it's so intriguing that you're going to mention it in the first sentence, it must be interesting.
You know, my instinct is calling for shorter my opening as well! I am so glad you brought it up. I don't know how to fix it yet, but I will fix it some time later when I figure it out.
post #49 of 129
My story is about a girl (or woman, I suppose...she's 21) who is obsessed with a boy from her childhood. The inciting incident is her in a bar...and he's there- though she doesn't know it. And yes...she sees ghosts, or, rather, other dimensions.

I love this story, I just want it to be a beautiful thing, like I've always imagined it.

Aren't first lines hard? Here's my first paragraph...maybe the first line isn't clear enough:

"It must be an old bar, because I can see people all over the place that aren’t here now, which usually happens in establishments that are old. These are the things my brain strays towards- which has helped keep me out of normal situations all my life. I can always retreat to the secret knowledge of what has been in a place over whats happening now.

I'm trying to live in that 'now', and it's sort of awful."
post #50 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdmaze View Post
My story is about a girl (or woman, I suppose...she's 21) who is obsessed with a boy from her childhood. The inciting incident is her in a bar...and he's there- though she doesn't know it. And yes...she sees ghosts, or, rather, other dimensions.

I love this story, I just want it to be a beautiful thing, like I've always imagined it.

Aren't first lines hard? Here's my first paragraph...maybe the first line isn't clear enough:

"It must be an old bar, because I can see people all over the place that aren’t here now, which usually happens in establishments that are old. These are the things my brain strays towards- which has helped keep me out of normal situations all my life. I can always retreat to the secret knowledge of what has been in a place over whats happening now.

I'm trying to live in that 'now', and it's sort of awful."
I find this intriguing. I think shorter sentences would help here, as well.
post #51 of 129
Thread Starter 
Since everyone is sharing their opening lines, I'll share mine. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep my opening. It's a one page preface. Or maybe it'll just be a one page chapter. Or maybe I'll get rid of this and jump right in. I just think it gives a bit of flavor of one of the characters that could be an enticing way to start the book.

Harley opened the refrigerator door and God smiled on him.
post #52 of 129
Very cool- concise. (something I need to work on, for sure)

I write like I talk...run-on sentences galore.
post #53 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
If you keep track of your word count - do you count the words in the outlines, and character descriptions that are not meant for the final copy?
I count those words for my "daily work quota" -- if I added 500 words to my synopsis, then I can quite for the day but I don't count those into my total novel wordcount... if that makes sense?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdmaze View Post
I'm reading a book called "Hooked" (by Les Edgerton) about starting your story strong. It says you have to start your story with a very strong, very meaningful inciting incident. Especially the first line. This caused me much stress, but I think I've got it. (I think?)

In "Hooked", the guy says the beginning should hook the readers, set the "rules" for the story and event contain some foreshadowing.

Anyone have great first lines they want to share?

Here's my new one for my book...I'm still working it a bit:

"It must be an old bar, because I can see people all over the place that aren’t here."
I think that sounds really interesting. I would immediately be curious about what the narrator means by seeing people who aren't really there. That would make me read on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post

Here is my first line, and I don't know if it accomplishes what I want it to accomplish:

"This manuscript was found by Christopher Blake, the Chief Editor of Great Pelican Publisher, while he was walking his chocolate lab along the shoreline in Boston Harbor."
Is it genre or literary? Am I wrong in thinking it's a fantasy? (We talked a bit in my retreat last week about how literary fiction and genre fiction sort of have different expectations for "good" first lines. Literary fiction often starts with exposition, which is what your first lines gives us; genre fiction often can't get away with starting that way.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mybabysmama View Post
Since everyone is sharing their opening lines, I'll share mine. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep my opening. It's a one page preface. Or maybe it'll just be a one page chapter. Or maybe I'll get rid of this and jump right in. I just think it gives a bit of flavor of one of the characters that could be an enticing way to start the book.

Harley opened the refrigerator door and God smiled on him.
Oooh, that's interesting as well. Now I'm sitting here wondering: Is it literal or figurative? Why does God care about Harley's fridge?



Here's mine -- I'm not sure the first sentence alone is very strong, but I feel like the first page is ok.

I arrived at Asgar Manor near dusk, on horseback and alone.

First paragraphs:
Quote:
I arrived at Asgar Manor near dusk, on horseback and alone. Barren branches dusted with an icy layer of dry snow stretched above me, and the fallen leaves on the lonely road between Asgar village and the manor house crunched under my horse’s hooves.

The gates of the manor stood open. I didn’t encounter anyone until I passed the nearest outbuildings, and then ‘twas only a stable boy hauling a rake. He froze as he spotted me, and his eyes bounced between me and the manor house, obviously torn between whether his duty lay in greeting me or warning the widowed Lady Asgar. The boy came to the conclusion that he feared me more than the wrath of his mistress, and he took my horse as I dismounted.
post #54 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aufilia View Post
I arrived at Asgar Manor near dusk, on horseback and alone.

First paragraphs:
Well, the first sentence isn't strong, but I think in the context of the first two paragraphs it works.

I think you write well. Lots of nice descriptions.
post #55 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aufilia View Post
Oooh, that's interesting as well. Now I'm sitting here wondering: Is it literal or figurative? Why does God care about Harley's fridge?
Just because Harley sees God doesn't mean God is actually there.
post #56 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aufilia View Post


Is it genre or literary? Am I wrong in thinking it's a fantasy? (We talked a bit in my retreat last week about how literary fiction and genre fiction sort of have different expectations for "good" first lines. Literary fiction often starts with exposition, which is what your first lines gives us; genre fiction often can't get away with starting that way.)

Please tell me more on the subject... And you are right, it's fantasy.
post #57 of 129
I wrote a fantasy 2 years ago for Nanowrimo. It was so fun, but so hard. I applaud anyone writing fantasy- world building is a huge challenge!
post #58 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdmaze View Post
I wrote a fantasy 2 years ago for Nanowrimo. It was so fun, but so hard. I applaud anyone writing fantasy- world building is a huge challenge!
I worry about the gravity of the task, but I am writing in scenes for now. It's not chronological, I am not writing in order: from the beginning to the end. It's much more of a "this chapter is where they meet ....", and "this is the chapter where they...." and I describe the encounter.

That's why it is so difficult to write the beginning, and I am avoiding it for now. I hope I'll be able to do it when inspiration hits, or when I'll have no other choice but to go to my beginning and finally launch the story.
post #59 of 129
See, again this is why I don't like one-size-fits-all guidelines. Depending upon the subgenre of fantasy we're talking about, "This manuscript was found by Christopher Blake, the Chief Editor of Great Pelican Publisher, while he was walking his chocolate lab along the shoreline in Boston Harbor" may well be a great opener. Have any of you read Dennis L. McKeirnan? This reminds me very much of his works, which have sometimes mentioned they're from manuscripts originally written in a certain (fantastical) language, and merely translated by the author. McKeirnan is far from a rock star, but he is published very regularly.

If you are drawn towards shorter sentences--I usually am, at least in regards to dialogue--then by all means use them. But there have been so many successful writers who've written so many ways that I do not think it's wise to say "Well, your first line has to be perfect, and it can only have between N & X number of words." I think it's erroneous to expect a first line to stand on its own. It's great if it does, yes, but it's going to be read in the context of at least the first paragraph. Also, there is a great deal of variation in what's expected, not just by genre but by subgenre. I'm writing urban fantasy, strong-heroine type, & I couldn't get away with some of these opening lines.
post #60 of 129
i wouldn't worry too much about writing in any particular style. there is no such thing as a set of 'rules' for writing that applies to all writers. i think what's important is that you take time listening to your work and where it wants to take you, which can often be in a completely opposite direction than you intended!

and i think that first line has a lot of potential. it's pretty concise and i don't think there is a set word limit for first lines. :-) what is really important to me at least is to develop a nice cadence through sentence-length variation. so i might follow a sentence like that with a really short, declarative one. it's when you write page-long first lines that you may need to worry. (i still can't get through faulkner...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
This conversation is stressing me out!

I know the importance of good opening, and I even put up the first two paragraphs on my blog to see people's reaction. I am still revisiting my beginning almost every single day, and fix it up one word, one fragment at a time.

"This manuscript was found by Christopher Blake, the Chief Editor of Great Pelican Publisher, while he was walking his chocolate lab along the shoreline in Boston Harbor."
i agree with this. don't worry about opening lines until you have written yourself totally out with a complete draft. don't edit yourself as you go; you will probably drive yourself crazy and give up. and oftentimes our inner editors don't make the wisest decisions. sometimes what initially seem like mistakes may turn out to be brilliant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mybabysmama View Post
First, have you finished the first draft of your manuscript? If not, don't even worry about your opening line now. It may be that after you finish your first draft you find a different beginning. You may also have a really great hook come to you in a moment of inspiration. Why waste good first draft writing time on one sentence when you have a whole story to uncover?
well, that's a keeper!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mybabysmama View Post
Harley opened the refrigerator door and God smiled on him.
this is a nice first line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aufilia View Post
I arrived at Asgar Manor near dusk, on horseback and alone.

i agree.

and i'm not much for genre fiction as i focused on hybrid forms within literary fiction, and poetry, during the course of my master's degree. :-)

i don't think any of us should aim for cookie-cutter writing; rather, i think each writer should develop her / his own 'fingerprint' of style. of course there's a lot to be learned from one's contemporaries. maybe the most important thing to me at least is that i continue to read. lots. lots of different writers. i have favorites, sure, but in order to keep my own voice fresh i need to read new authors / new-to-me classics.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagesgirl View Post
See, again this is why I don't like one-size-fits-all guidelines. Depending upon the subgenre of fantasy we're talking about, "This manuscript was found by Christopher Blake, the Chief Editor of Great Pelican Publisher, while he was walking his chocolate lab along the shoreline in Boston Harbor" may well be a great opener. Have any of you read Dennis L. McKeirnan? This reminds me very much of his works, which have sometimes mentioned they're from manuscripts originally written in a certain (fantastical) language, and merely translated by the author. McKeirnan is far from a rock star, but he is published very regularly.

If you are drawn towards shorter sentences--I usually am, at least in regards to dialogue--then by all means use them. But there have been so many successful writers who've written so many ways that I do not think it's wise to say "Well, your first line has to be perfect, and it can only have between N & X number of words." I think it's erroneous to expect a first line to stand on its own. It's great if it does, yes, but it's going to be read in the context of at least the first paragraph. Also, there is a great deal of variation in what's expected, not just by genre but by subgenre. I'm writing urban fantasy, strong-heroine type, & I couldn't get away with some of these opening lines.

it's nice to see this group writing here and sharing ideas. good luck everyone on your books!
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