31 January 2010

Notes on Openings

A few notes on yesterday’s serial… I’m leaving it to stand as it is (call it posterity), but if I were to do it again, I think I’d cut out the opening 1st person segment. It seemed funny when I was writing it, but all those acronyms were hard to keep up with and looked a lot more off-putting in blog form than they did in Microsoft Word. There were also a few wording issues I would change in the later portion, but all in all, I’m pretty happy with it. I was thinking about where I chose to start the story, both narrative-wise and sequentially; because actually, that opening was the third one I wrote. Also I’ve been looking at how I’ve chosen to open some of my other WIPs, and I’ve been studying the various blogs that post reviews of people’s opening page. It’s interesting how many people want to start off with a calm, almost ruminative sequence, sometimes one where the MC is waiting for something to happen (as in the first opening I wrote featured Mockin’bird sitting on the front porch waiting for the arrival of Gully, whom she had never met) and then pick up the action from there. One of the other opening habits I have is to start off with an unknown person saying something, usually to the MC. Now, I’ve read a lot of the articles out there saying, “Show, not tell,” and admonishing the beginning writer to start off with strong action – one article complained about books that start off with a summary of the MC’s life, and to a certain extent I agree; but I have to say, I’ve read several stories that follow the basic template I’m interested in that have a charming “Part One,” so to speak; they paint beautiful pictures and really ground the readers and gives them a vested interest. These stories include “The Goose Girl” by Shannon Hale, “Spindle’s End” by Robin McKinley, and to a lesser extent “Dealing with Dragons” by Patricia C. Wrede. If you can pull it off, I don’t see any reason not to do it. So. There’s my two-cents worth.

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