Optimism is NOT Arrogance

Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Getting Started...the Opening Line

So you've opened Word and are staring at a thin line blinking on and off; it seems to say to you YOU. CAN'T. DO. THIS. YOU. CAN'T. DO. THIS.

How do you begin to tell the story that is already finished in your head?

Well, first you have to type something so the cursor will shut up.  YES I CAN.  Something like that.

But when it comes to the opening line of the story we've all heard it's gotta be a GRABBER.  Gotta get them hooked!  Call me Ismael, something like that.  So you think.  And think.

Well, there are two things I'd suggest here that have helped me.  One is to start typing more.  Anything.  Remember, you're not being watched and you aren't going to submit this first draft to anyone.  Writer's block, especially at the beginning, is very common and can be easily erased by just typing.  "John went to school.  It was a dark and stormy night."  Whatever.  Just include your main character doing something, even if it's totally irrelevant.

See, that will get your mind into the world of your character.  Your hero's journey.  It's like entering a time portal - you have to step through it.  Before you know it, you'll have a thousand words written and your hand'll be cramped.

Now, the OTHER thing I'd suggest here is a little more creative:  imagine your hero sitting down with his or her grandkids, or maybe a set of someone else's kids, or maybe your own kids;  doesn't really matter.  And they're all clamoring for him to tell them that story - the one in which he [insert story line here].  He laughs, sits them down, and looking over them begins.

Now does he begin with "It was a dark and stormy night?"  No!  At least, I hope not, otherwise the kids'll be asleep before he gets to the next sentence.  No, he'll begin with something that will make them lean forward - something that happened to him, or something that he heard, or something mysterious.  "I awoke to the snap of thunder just outside my window, and barely managed to escape my room as the tree fell through the roof."

Now THAT'S a dark and stormy night.  And it involves the hero immediately.  When I was stuck with mine, I didn't know how to grab them, so I just started telling the story.  Then I thought about what Jeff, the hero would've said in the beginning as he was retelling the story:  "I wanted to call the police."

Anyway, think of what works for you as a listener to a good storytelling or as a reader.  What do you want to hear/read when you start off?

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