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.
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?”
Read Part 33