First line: majority rules?

First line: majority rules?

Here’s what NY agent Betsy Lerner had to say about my first line:

Winter was coming – I could smell it.

I liked the simplicity here, too. We have no idea who the speaker is, who the first person narrator is, but I feel  like I do. I think this simple sentence is filled with foreboding. Winter is coming, no doubt, but what else: Trouble? Pain? Violence? To me, it’s pregnant with possibility.

And so, given this and what many others had to say, I’m sticking with it. Happily, I should add. (See my post below for the alternative.)

Do check out Lerner’s blog: The Forest for the Tress. She’s irreverent, poetic, caustic, shocking and moving. Her book by that title, on writing, is also very good.

Now: back to the rest of the puzzle of The Next Novel — which I’ve now titled: This Bright Darkness. 

What do you think?

Side-swiped by first lines

Side-swiped by first lines

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.

The line?

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?