Hello, writers. Many thanks to Emmet, Tara the Antisocial Social Worker, and Quarkstomper for their brilliant and funny Write On! diaries.
I want to thank you all so much for your kind wishes before and after the death of my sister. I’ve only just gotten around to reading them. Thanks for the cards from those who knew where to send them… and Mnemosyne asked about charitable donations. The charity we’ve selected was her favorite, an anti-malaria campaign called Nothing but Nets.
My sister was a writer.
Two and a half years ago I took her to the emergency room because she had an excruciating headache and was forgetting words. After what seemed like forever, they took her away for a CT scan. Next thing I know there’s an overly-cheerful neurologist standing next to us saying “There appears to be a lesion on the scan.”
He asks me to step out into the hall. Why on earth does he think my sister won’t find that suspicious, quite aside from the fact that she has the best hearing east of the Rockies? Nonetheless, I step.
“I have to say ‘lesion’ because that’s all the CT scan shows,” he says brightly. “But we can assume that it’s probably a tumor.”
When I step back into the little curtained ER pod, my sister smiles at me and says, “This will make it a lot easier for me to make bad things happen to my characters.”
You see, writers think that way. How can I use this?
Unfortunately, she never did get to use it. Writing became more difficult after that and although she had a couple more stories published that she’d written before her illness, she wasn’t able to work any more on revising the unpublished novels on her hard drive.
She had two novels out from a small press and had sold I don’t know, 35 or 40 stories and poems, all in the fantasy/science fiction market.
There can’t be a much crueler disease for a writer than one that attacks the ability to write. Writers find ways to go on writing when they lose their eyesight, or lose their ability to manipulate a pen or a keyboard. But there’s not much you can do when it’s your ability to manipulate language that’s impaired.
So if you’re a writer, please write while you can. That story in your head isn’t in anybody else’s. You may never climb the bestseller charts, or see your book in the center aisle at B&N, but that’s not the point. Writers write.
Tonight’s challenge is about that book that you’ve thought about writing for years. Write the opening line. Or, if you prefer, the opening three lines.
Remember that the opening's job is to hook the reader. Try to place the reader
in medias res. Avoid info dumps: Opening lines aren’t usually the place for the character’s full name, age, occupation, etc.Write On! will be a regular weekly diary (Thurs 8 pm ET) until it isn't.
Before signing a contract with any agent or publisher, please be sure to check them out on Preditors and Editors, Absolute Write and/or Writer Beware.