The Importance of First Lines

The somber group of men sat in a large room that rested far belowground, accessed by only a single, high-speed elevator.

David Baldacci

In case you missed it, I really like first lines. There is such a graveness and beauty about their importance. Some readers judge a book by those first lines instead of by its cover. Imagine, a stranger picks up your novel in a bookstore, reads the first few lines, and crinkles their nose as they place it back in the shelf…what a nightmare!

Baldacci, David. Saving Faith. New York: Warner, 1999. Print.

Slacking

Obviously, I haven’t been on here as often as I would like to be for the past couple of weeks or so. I’d love to say it’s because I’ve been editing Collecting Humanity or working on some other sort of writing project, but no such luck.

9788867323135_350I did do a tiny bit of editing last night and I have been keeping up with my planner/journal every day. I’ve also been trying to write at least one or two poems every week. I know that isn’t going to get me my poem a day goal, but it’s progress compared to last year.

It’s as if I haven’t been able to get really plugged in lately.

But maybe it’s more that I’ve been too plugged into some things instead of what I should be. Besides my writing and brief bouts of social media, I should probably try to stay off of the internet. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to uninstall or at least move my Facebook app that I have on my phone either.

Something else that I would consider an achievement so far is that I’ve been reading more. I used to read all of the time, but I stopped that at some point last year or the year before for some reason. I’m currently working on David Baldacci’s Saving Faith that a patient, where I work, actually let me borrow. And, before that, I read Horns by Joe Hill; I haven’t watched the movie yet, but a friend of mine said that he liked it.

But I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I’d like and I haven’t been editing my novel in a way that will help me to finish it. My husband actually told me last night that he was happy I was working on it, that he would make me sit down and work on it if he could.

I’m planning on setting aside at least one night a week to focus solely on tackling the beastly project that is editing. And I’m going to try to post at least twice a week here and on No Penny Required.

Writing as an Adventure

Writing a book is an adventure. To being with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.

Winston Churchill

Frank, Leonard Roy. Random House Webster’s Quotationary. New York: Random House, 1999. Print.

Citations

I know, I can’t bring another Story Piece today, but I can find time to give you two posts in one day instead? We already knew that I was strange.

I recently realized that I haven’t been citing from the book that I’ve been using to find quotes from. And, because I think it’s important for you to use citations in work, it must also be important for me to use citations in my work. This posts is simply giving you a head up that whenever you see some words in magenta at the end of one of my posts, that is a citation from Son of Citation Machine.

ExampleofMagentaCitation

Above is a better example of the magenta that will be happening. I know that it looks pink, but if you have a WordPress account, you can look at your color options and this one is, in fact, known as magenta.

Anyways, I’m going to go through the other few Weekly Quotes that I have and make sure that I have MLA citations for each of them.

QuotationaryThe book that I was referring to is the Quotationary put together by Leonard Roy Frank. This is a wonderful book that I’m pretty sure my grandma found for me somewhere at some point some years ago–it’s been a while. It’s also a book that I think you should make a part of your collection because it is wonderful and also because it is apparently only $0.98 on Amazon.

I’ve always found quotes to be fun to look at it and they can also be an inspiration for your writing. I find that it’s a great way to spark poetry, in particular.

And this book is designed wonderfully. For one thing, it’s huge! It’s filled to the brim with so many wonderfully easy to read and find quotes.

Frank did a great job when he decided to separate the quotes by subject, making it easy to flip through your ABCs until you find the type of quote you might be looking for. The index is also broken up into topic and author, making it even easier to find what you’re looking for. Each quote has the speaker of said quote along with what they might have said it in, be it a novel or speech or letter. There are even some classic, anonymous quotes at the end of each section.

Surround Yourself

I’ve steadily come to the realization that I’m currently reading and watching fiction that’s similar to the mood of my main writing project.

Last week, I finished the first draft of a short story that I’ve been working, which is on a much lighter note than the novel I started in November. Shortly after, I finished reading “The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower I” by Stephen King and then picked up Dan Brown‘s “Angels & Demons” off my shelf. I also became invested in the TV show The Following.

43615All three of these stories, if you will, are rather dark in nature. I’ve written a review of The Following, but have yet to do so for “The Gunslinger.” And, since I’ve barely started “Angels & Demons,” of course I haven’t written a review for Brown’s work yet. Check out their websites or do some Google-ing of your own, but the point that I’m trying to make is that each of these works can, in some way, be classified in the horror genre.

I can’t stand horror or slasher movies, but I enjoy reading the same genre in book form. (Yes, I’m aware that I’m strange). And I can handle TV shows that freak me out as long as there’s enough plot to pull me in and I have something to distract me before bedtime.

So, if horror isn’t my favorite thing to read or watch, why do I suddenly find myself surrounded by it?

I think it was subconscious’ way of telling me to get back into writing my novel. And yesterday I did start the next chapter of what is already the longest work I’ve ever written. Whether or not King and Brown and Kevin Bacon inspired me to get back to it, I think that it’s benefiting me to immerse myself in this world.

To me, it’s important for every writer to devote as much time as possible to 1) writing and 2) reading. How best do we learn our craft than by practicing it and observing the success of other master crafters? And, especially if you find your self delving into a topic you aren’t used to writing, I think that it’s a good idea to read and watch works that are at least somewhat similar to what you’re working on. I’m not telling you to plagiarize. All I’m trying to say is that it might get you in the right mindset or mood for what you’re working on.

Pirates

Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesay, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17…and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.

~Robert Louis Stevenson from “Treasure Island”

As I mentioned in today’s other post, I’m going to try to start reading Treasure Island. Partly because I have a thing for first lines and partly because I haven’t had the chance to start reading this work, I’ve given you the first sentence of the novel.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island. Oxford: Macmillan, 2005. Print.

Writing Prompt #6

Today’s Writing Prompt is:

Tell the story of Dr. Knuckles and Billy Bean.

My Response to Last Week’s Prompt is:

Untitled

How does it do that?
Dandelions might be
a heartier flower, but
it isn’t exactly a body
builder. Fragile green
stuff wasn’t meant to
suck its gut in to squish
through layers of cement.
This is probably one of
the few times that this
little yellow flower will
actually be seen as
hope instead of a weed.