Ever since we returned to our winter home in San Miguel de Allende (Mexico), I’ve been working like crazy, getting ready for the sprint-revision of The Next Novel, which I’ve promised to send to my agent at the end of the month. (It was last due in May!)
I’ve recovered from the 4th draft conversion from 3rd person to 1st. That seems easy in comparison to the challenge now, which is figuring out an emerging important character and what happens to him. His story has evolved into a fairly important subplot (at draft 5!).
To help figure it out, I’ve laid out all the scenes on the big dining room table, puzzling over the flow of the story. (More than once, I groaned over the difficulty of writing a fact-based biographical novel.)
I’ve laid the cards out using the filmscript-writing structure proposed in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat — a short, punchy and tad corny how-to book that offers quite a lot of helpful plot wisdom. (Scriptwriting and novel writing are two different beasts, but there can be fruitful cross-pollination. More on that later.)
But I shouldn’t be here, on-line — I should be figuring out The Story — but I got side-swiped this morning by the discovery that the opening line of The Next Novel made a shortlist of opening lines by agent Betsy Lerner in her irresistibly caustic blog: The Forest for the Trees.
Winter was coming — I could smell it.
Ironically, I changed that line yesterday to:
It was the season of turning, everything golden.
What do you think?
I think it depends on the story–and what in your heart you think is best. I’m not sure if you can know if a first line is the right first line until you’ve written the last one.
Very true, Lilian. I’ve had the last line for some time. Now it’s all those lines in the middle!
Winter was coming — I could smell it. — lives and breathes, and sets a tone that leads you in. The other line is a bit romantic and passive, if that is what you need here. Now, back to work!!
Thank you, Paulette! ???
I couldn’t get any work done in Mexico. My husband was born in Mexico and I want to move there one day!
I love both opening sentences. They both engage different senses.
And I too love your door!
I’m not sure I could get ANY work done in Mexico. My husband was born in Mexico and I want to move there one day.
I love both first lines, they engage different senses.
And I too, love your door!
Yes, it’s a challenge, Allison!
We jokingly call it the Door to the Soul. It doesn’t go anywhere, however: it’s art.
Wow, you totally changed the mood with that change in opening line! (Also, maybe a good thing to change since, in reading the comments on Betsy Lerner’s post, no one liked your first choice. :S) p.s. LOVE the screen on your dining room wall!
Both lines are a little passive, Freda, so I’m not sure.
If you read all 70+ comments (!!!) on Betsy Lerner’s blog, there are some that did choose my line, but two made the observation that it felt like it had been used before: a good thing to consider.
It may yet be the opening line I go with: I like the animal sense of “smelling.”
The screen on the wall is actually a very old door! I love it too.