When I look back, I realize how fortunate I am that these new things were all positive. I didn't have to deal with difficult family, health or financial issues. No giant storms like Hurricane Sandy hit our area. Our recent snow is icy but easily dealt with by humans and horses. No unexpected catastrophes. What new adventures will 2013 bring? Will the positives again win out? Or will bad luck hit us?
Only time will tell as 2013 begins and rushes into 2014. (Does the year go by fast for you, too?) But I also want to talk about different kinds of beginnings: how to start a story, chapter or novel. First lines and scenes must hook a reader/editor. Many editors today won't read past the first page. Some new writers struggle with this; others have no problem.
Usually I can't start a new book or chapter until I have mulled over (and over) in my mind the opening line and scene. Only then do I sit down and write.
For anyone who has problems with those first lines, here are some tips and examples that I have gathered after writing over a hundred new story, article and book beginnings:
Hook your reader with a single, bold statement, usually one that has some shock value.
“He should never have taken that shortcut.” (Michael Crichton, Timeline)
Hook your reader with a problem. This often takes more than a single sentence, but it sets up the story’s problem immediately, thrusting a character into trouble.
One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone. There. Gone. No 'poof.' No flash of light. No explosion.” (Michael Grant Gone)
Hook your reader with immediate action:
"Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening Hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen." (Philip Pullman The Golden Compass)
Hook your reader with dialogue:
"I do," she said, and only then allowed herself to wonder what she'd done. (Edith Layton To Wed a Stranger)
Hook your reader with sensory images:
“The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.” (Scott Westerfeld Uglies)
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort” (Tolkien The Hobbit)
“Billy Ray Cobb was the younger and small of the two rednecks. At twenty-three he was already a three-year veteran of the state penitentiary at Parchman. Possession, with intent to sell.” (John Grisham A Time To Kill.)
"I have been accused of being anal retentive, an over-achiever, and a compulsive perfectionist, like those are bad things." (Lisa Yee Millicent Min, Girl Genius)
Happy New Year, ya'll! And let me know what new beginnings you will toast to at midnight (or earlier if you're like me), whether they're on paper or in your life!