Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First and Last Sentences

I thought this might be a fun thing to do - and partly, because of a problem I have with one of my WIPs.

A first sentence - generally the first thing a reader sees. Doesn't exactly have to be the 'hook' sentence, but you want it to be snappy. As a writer, the first sentence generally is that first step before you take off running.

Last sentence - not last of the book, but the one you've left off and have currently stranded the WIP First Draft or WIP Revision. My theory is when you close the Word document for the day, you want to leave off on a hook. Or something that makes you want to return to the WIP the next day to continue. The last sentence of a novel is completely different. You want it to satisfy your reader, tie everything up in a nice bow, slap a period on without stabbing anyone with it.

So - let's just take one of my First Draft pets, "Herbarian" for example:

First sentence:

Ages ago, things were a bit tidier in world affairs, but people started down the messy road when they began keeping gardens.


Hah. So not hooky, but it worked for me in first (rough) draft, because it gave me a focus point. It won't work on readers, probably, but I will work on that in following drafts.

Last Sentence:

If you went there, you might have very bad company, whatever was left of them.


This sentence in itself works for me. Because the paragraph basically expresses the main character's concern over her new friend, who has shown some rather vivid signs of being a greenwitch (forbidden).

My real problem from a writing standpoint is I ended with a complete scene or at the end of a complete loop (introduce character, set the place and problem). I haven't figured out yet what my next loop is - whether I need more time before I get to the (revelations, BIGGER problem) loop, or if I should just jump into it. I feel like I need a scene before then, but am having a problem getting started. I've lost the momentum.

This has led me to sort of agree with somebody (who I used to COMPLETELY disagree with) that you do not want to end a 'writing session' at the end of a complete loop. This person said you want to stop with the beginning of the next action or scene, so you have everything set up and ready for you to jump back in.

It will be miserable going, but I'm going to just sit down and write an in-between scene, promising myself if the scene comes out too dithery, I can always edit it out of existence when I edit.

The other option, of course, is not writing a possibly dithery scene period, but just jump to the next important scene that is important to the story (revelations, BIGGER problem).

Clichetic Brainstorm

I'm throwing this one in, because I can't make up my mind about something from Herbarian. Thanks to various kiddyfic, it probably is a BAD thing to create that one evil teacher who scares all of the students into behaving.

I was listening (well, technically reading, but it works out to be the same thing) to somebody talk about a teacher who would break children's hands if they wrote with their left hands. Or break their fingers or tear their nails off if they were caught using that same hand.

I somewhat suspect that some of this could be urban legend (kids do make up junk about their teachers, embellish details, etc), but I sat there thinking that creating somebody like that would be just what I need for that in-between scene. I could tie this teacher in to my one character too. She is usually somebody who is very good at what she does (fancy handwriting or art), but she is rightfully in a bad mood because she missed something and now is punished by being put in a position between her work and family. And a member of that family is taking advantage of her loyalty and it drives her insane - which is why she does stuff that appears overly rough and terrifying to the other students.

Ok. I think I'm going to do this!

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