Monday, April 11, 2005

How I Got Here, Part 32


Welcome back, BGs.

Well, my goodness, and didn’t y’all let loose while I was away. Turn my back, and look what happens. Sheesh, see if I ever ask y’all again what you think about a line I’ve written. J

Actually, I thought the discussion was fascinating. Ain’t it fun to talk about writing? Especially when you’re supposed to be writing. I mean, it’s a whole lot easier to talk about it than do it. At least for me.

For those of you who’ve just joined us (and are by now thoroughly confused), we’re talking about a first line of a new book I threw out last week: She harbored a kinship with the living dead. Which was a tweak from the initial:
Paige Manders harbored a restless kinship with the living dead.

Only now after the discussion, I’m thinkin’ “restless” maybe should go back in before “kinship.” Oh, and I really had a good laugh about the name Paige Manders. Sally said it made her think of meandering through pages. Never thought of that. I did, however, think a whole nanosecond about naming her Paige Turner. All right, Sally—tag, you’re it. You don’t like Manders for a last name, you think me up a new one. The rest of y’all can help. (Although I am cringing, just imagining what sort of beast I’m lettin’ loose, asking for your opinions once again.)

The interesting thing about the comments is all the various thoughts about writing the discussion touched on, merely by starting with opinions about that first line. Here’s what I think about the whole thing. Randy, you are right about the line-it is telling. And it’s in an omniscient POV. You are also right that one should start a book, especially suspense, right in the action. However, after agreeing with you on all that, what do I say? (You are now about to see my rebellious side kick up.)

I don’t care.

A first line is a great place to break a rule.

Reasons follow.

1. If you’ve read my suspense, especially the Hidden Faces series, you know that the suspense starts on page one. Bam, and you’re into some deadly situation. Given that, I don’t think it matters that the first line is telling. Now if I went on line after line that like, not good. But . . .

2. A first line of this type is simply to jar people, as I’ve said before. It’s not to say the whole book should be written this way. The second line will put you right into the action. I think this works because . . .

3. I’m a very visual person, and I write visually. Sometimes I imagine a book starting the way a movie would, with the camera kind of far back and moving in closer to the main person. Once the “camera” reaches the character, then we’re in that POV character’s head to stay (for the scene, anyway.)

I used a similar line in one other suspense—Dread Champion. That first line was: After twenty years of midnights among the dead, Victor Mendoza didn’t spook easily. Then the scene moves in to what’s going on in the cemetery that’s spooking Victor.

At any rate, we won’t all agree—and that’s the fun part of the discussion. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts very much. Y’all keep being so chatty, and I’ll have to get you a tagboard attached to this here blog.

Okay, moving on.

Dear BGs, you have stuck with me through thick and thin. Well, up to this point, mostly thin. You’ve felt frustrated along with me, mentally kicked your share of cabinets, had great empathy for me as I went up and down the roller coaster ride of the entire 1990s, trying to get published in fiction. Some of you have wailed, “Oh, my goodness, is it gonna be this bad for me?”

I don’t think so. Doesn’t have to be. One major difference today is how we can connect with other writers. Blogs, Web sites, e-mail, writer’s loops—I had none of this when I was learning to write fiction. All this stuff is so helpful if you take advantage of it. There’s plenty of mentoring and teaching available for free these days. Second, don’t forget I went my own way for eight years before I thought to ask God what He would like me to write. If you’re making that mistake—don’t.

So all of you on your way to being published—keep at it. Write, write, write, and read, read, read. Study, study, study. Work on the craft and don’t give up.

As y’all know all too well, I worked and worked for nine years. Finally sold one novel. Then, just as I thought my career was taking off, doors got slammed in my face left and right. Man. I thought this here writer rocket had done lost its juice before it left the launching pad.

But you faithful BGs have hung with me long enough. Now it’s time for a turn-around, don’t you think? Something that says, “Hey, all this work has been worth it. It’s finally gonna start paying off.”

Well, that’s a great thought. Maybe in another 32 parts, I’ll get to something akin to that . . .

Okay, it won’t be quite that long.

I left you Friday (fiend that I am) with myself hanging on the phone. Agent Jane saying she heard from Editor E about that contract for the purchase of Eyes of Elisha. The very first novel I’d ever written—ten years ago now. And, of course, I am dying a thousand deaths, so sure am I that she’s going to tell me this sale, too, has been cancelled. Even as she is speaking, I’m sinking into my office chair, preparing myself.
Hey, Brandilyn, you don’t need this sale anyway. Who cares? So what if it’s been ten years?

Then Jane says. “Yes, we talked about your contract. They’re looking at making a change.””

Oh, no, here it comes.

“Editor E says, since they like Eyes of Elisha so much—would you like to enlarge the contract, and write them a second book?”


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Read Part 33



9 comments:

Tina said...

Victory at last! Or is it? I'm being conservative in my cheers since you aren't using a house name yet. I think that's just the suspense writer in you.

What a moment! From doors slammed and "no thank you" to, "Will you write us another book?" I'm definitely motivated to write, read and study!

I couldn't believe all the reactions over a single line. Very interesting. Excluding myself, I'd say you've attracted a better-than-average crowd to this blog. Thanks for the post.

Kelly K. said...

Yeeessss!!!!!

BTW - Got a book in the mail Friday, written by some Brandilyn chick. Read it until my eyes crossed from exhaustion Friday night, finished Saturday morning. Mmmm-hmmm - great read - Drama Diva! Now to post my influencer review on Amazon et al.

Becky said...

Thanks for putting up with us, Brandilyn. I really did enjoy the weekend repartee, especially since you had us dangling on the end of hook number 31. But it really is fun to talk writing.

I'm with Tina--not relaxing yet because you haven't named the publisher, but wondering if that's a ploy. Niggling in the back of my mind are your comments about contracted book and receiving very few, if any, editorial changes. So ... I know something is still up.

Paige's new last name. Good choice to pass on Turner. Hahah--you made me laugh with that one. Something two syllable? Ending in -er or -ers? Not sure I like the suffix. Might lend itself to humorous readings, no matter what. Trying to think of non-verb endings. Maybe something like Gordon. Paige Gordon. Or Yardly. Paige Yardly. How about Buress. Paige Buress.

Shot my wad. Someone else's turn.

Becky said...

Thanks for putting up with us, Brandilyn. I really did enjoy the weekend repartee, especially since you had us dangling on the end of hook number 31. But it really is fun to talk writing.

I'm with Tina--not relaxing yet because you haven't named the publisher, but wondering if that's a ploy. Niggling in the back of my mind are your comments about contracted book and receiving very few, if any, editorial changes. So ... I know something is still up.

Paige's new last name. Good choice to pass on Turner. Hahah--you made me laugh with that one. Something two syllable? Ending in -er or -ers? Not sure I like the suffix. Might lend itself to humorous readings, no matter what. Trying to think of non-verb endings. Maybe something like Gordon. Paige Gordon. Or Yardly. Paige Yardly. How about Buress. Paige Buress.

Shot my wad. Someone else's turn.

Linda said...

Dangled all weekend at the end of the rope and couldn't wait to read this a.m.'s post before I went to work. Thank goodness you're an early riser since I'm on EDT!

Glad you gave us a chance to breathe with a little good news today. Can't wait to see if we're gasping for air again tomorrow.

BTW, I didn't weigh in on the first line before, but I liked 'restless' and the full name, too. I even like Paige Manders. They give the sentence much better rhythm.

C.J. Darlington said...

Okay, here are a few names off the top of my head:

Paige Matthews. Paige Galloway. Paige Arneau. Paige Myers. Paige Cohen. Paige Gold.

I too got Dead of Night on Saturday. Started it on Sunday and am in the midst right now ... great so far! Don't think I'll beat Kelly to the reviews though ... alas, I'm not THAT fast of a reader.

sally apokedak said...

Paige Turner! I never thought of that one.

Well, it's kind of hard to name her when I know nothing about her. I think Manders is a Dutch name so I guess I know her nationality (or that of her husband--the nationality of her name, anyway) and I know she has some kind of contact with the living dead, whoever they are. I think to be safe I'll just offer some other Dutch names and leave the second sight type names out of it. And after looking at several Dutch names the ones I like mostly started with C. I don't know why.

Paige Clausen
Paige Comstock
Paige Conklin

Of course, Paige is French so maybe I'm all off track with this Dutch junk. If Dutch isn't important then I like some of the names already suggested. I think I like Matthews and Meyers best.

Here is a link to last names by nationality in case you want to check out more names:

http://www.last-names.net/

The links on the left will give you some last names, according to nationality, for free. It just won't tell you what they mean unless you pay for the service.

sally

Lynette Sowell said...

Wow, a two-book contract out of one? Okay, part of me would like to cheer "whooeee!" The other part would be scared spitless. If the first book was this hard to birth, what about the second? On the writers' group loop another writer mentioned being afraid of success. I understand that completely. I'm waiting 'til tomorrow to hear your reaction to that offer.

Paige Turner. Hum. What's her ethnic background, or did she marry into her name? Or is that all Classified?

Yes, ma'am. Write, write, write. Study, study, study.
~~Lynette

Paige said...

In reference to the name choice.

I find it funny that you stated your final name choice for Paige.... posted on my actual birthday ... April 15
... and I appreciate that it is Paige Williams.

Thanks, Paige Clausen, Missouri

I look forward to buying the book when you publish!