Tag: first drafts

first drafts

The Beginning (full stop).

  Great opening lines are memorable. I suspect many people can quote the opening of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities even if they don’t know what they are quoting.  The first scene in a book is often the first one written. It may even be the scene that inspired the rest of the book (that image that won’t leave the writer’s mind, taking over until it has spawned characters, plots, settings, and hopefully a satisfying conclusion).  Fingers tap the keyboard or grip the pen, speeding through the first pages, tumbling onto the next chapter, and the next until it is time to type The End. Of the first draft, that is. Then reality sets in. The first pages are the ones that sell the book. They are the hook. The decision to continue. They become THE EVERYTHING. I suspect that first pages, or first paragraphs or better yet, first sentences are more studied than any other pages in any manuscript.  Workshops are organized around perfecting these critical pages (our very own Paula Munier frequently lends her expertise to a First Ten Pages bootcamp through Writer’s Digest). This is an excellent opportunity to receive critical feedback. However, what if you don’t have the ten pages […]

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The next book. Where and when to begin….

 Good morning Miss Demeanors! I’ve been on the road recently, first to the wonderful Southern Kentucky Book Festival in Bowling Green, then to the Mystery Writers of America symposium in New York, and finally to Malice Domestic in Bethesda. At every point, there was talk about writing. Lots of talk about writing.  One of the questions is how to know when it’s time to start a new project. My question today is, what part is the most difficult for you? The initial idea, outline, writing the first pages? Do you have a process to go from idea to “start”? ROBIN: The opening scene. I try to subscribe to the crappy first draftprocess where I focus on getting the story out of my system. Ideas areeasy, 3-dimensional characters take a little more time, knowing whereto start the clock ticking is hard, a great first sentence is where I agonize. I have to remind myself I have permission to just spit thefirst draft out and worry about that all-important first page whenI’ve got some clay on the table to work with. SUSAN: I’m with you, Robin.  I really like to know the opening scene, and even though I plow forward with a rough first draft, I’m […]

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