Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Week 25: The Beginning and the End
Are you like me? Whenever I’m in a bookstore, I go from book to book, reading opening lines. Some grab me, some don’t.
Donald Mass, in his WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK, says the “intrigue factor” is the important element in memorable first lines. That’s what makes us ask, “What does that mean? Or, “What happens next?” The writer hooks us with those questions, and before we know it, we’re zipping through the story, reading page after page after page.
To create memorable first lines, Maass suggests taking what we’ve initially written and then shortening it. Perhaps the second line would make a tighter opening. Or combine all the elements in the first paragraph and craft a hard-hitting sentence that draws the reader into the story. Maass warns against starting with weather, description or setting. Instead lead with a hook that keeps the reader guessing.
Equally important are closing lines, which should also be well crafted. Books in a series need to leave the reader hungry for the next release. Stand-alone titles should provide an uplifting resolution or final thought the reader can savor.
Let’s look at our own stories. Can we improve the lines we’ve written to hook our readers at the opening and leave them begging for more at the end?
Wishing you abundant blessings,
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