And for this week’s blog post steal, I’m borrowing from Kristin Nelson and Angie Hodapp. They started a series in June of 2016 about 9 Story Openings to Avoid. The first one is the traditional sittin’ and thinkin’. As opposed to the opening of Julia Quinn’s Brighter Than the Sun which starts with this: “Eleanor Lyndon was minding her own business when Charles Wycombe, Earl of Billington, fell – quite literally – into her life.” Continue reading
One of my favorite blogs did an ongoing bit last year called “Write Your Novel In A Year.” It ended with Week 52: Keep the Momentum Going. The goal for the last week is to work on ideas and strategies for your next book. And then the blogger says, take a break, immerse yourself in someone else’s stories, and do imagination exercises. The last ‘pin it, quote it, belief it’ of the year was “I oscillate between thinking I’m crazy and thinking I’m not crazy enough” (Joyce Carol Oates). Yep, been there. Continue reading
Here is another update on the Write Your Novel In A Year series from Writers Write. We’re up to week 41 but I’m going to focus on Week 40: 3 Rules You Can Break to Start Your Story. I like rules and generally follow them. I think most writers have their own particular hard and fast ones, and play loose on other ones. Jenny Crusie is anti-prologue, Nora Roberts head hops, and Linda Howard writes big sections of straight narrative. And I like their stories. The three the blogger offers are never start your novel with a prologue, never start your novel with a description of the weather, and never start your novel with your main character alone in bed. Continue reading
This past week, I’ve been struggling with a side project, which is actually yet another revision of an old project, the Women’s Fiction manuscript I wrote during our McDaniel classes. The book is complete. It’s been through beta readers and revisions. It even made the rounds to a few agents and was roundly rejected. There was a lot of positive feedback in those rejections, but some negative comments as well. And the kicker was that story aspects some readers saw as positives and even loved, others saw as negatives.
Over the months of those rejections, I slowly (and painfully) made peace with the possibility that this book just wasn’t going to connect with publishing gatekeepers. Maybe someday I’d self-publish it, maybe not, but either way, other projects and deadlines and career choices called.
While I was finally ready to pack that old story into a drawer, my brain had other plans. I’d be happily immersed in 1870’s London with my new cast of characters when the three modern women from a rural Virginia town would take over my mind’s limited bandwidth. I’d be catching up with writing friends and discussing current projects, and my conversation would drift back to that old manuscript and we’d ponder what its fatal flaw might be.
The final straw came when I dreamed about the book. I spend a lot of time thinking and daydreaming about my characters and plot lines. I also tend to have vivid dreams. But rarely do these two things intertwine. I almost never dream about my writing projects. This story was different. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t quit it.
To end the constant interruptions, I decided to carve out a few hours of each day’s writing time to reread that old story in an attempt to figure out where it went wrong and whether I could rescue it. What better place to start than at the beginning? Continue reading
It’s our pleasure to welcome soon-t0-be-published author Jenn Windrow to Eight Ladies Writing. To continue Justine’s series on Fiction Fundamentals, Jenn is going to talk about writing great intros. Take it away, Jenn!
The single most important part to any book, in my opinion, is the first few paragraphs.
Because this is where you “hook” your reader. And you want nothing more than to hook your reader from the very first sentence.
Think about it, a well written first paragraph should do many things. It should tell your reader what the story is about. Set the tone. Introduce your character. Introduce your world.
I could sit here all day and tell you what you need to include in your fist paragraph, but I think it’s easier to analyze some amazing examples. So, let’s dig in. Continue reading
The cake has been cut and the booze has been flowing freely for about an hour when you look across the dance floor, and you see him. He was at your table, and sitting, he was a well-dressed nothing. But now, he’s dancing, and there’s something about the fluid motion of his arms, the way his kneebone connects to his thighbone, and oh lordy, will you look at his hips? You look away before your heart pops over your sweetheart neckline. You look back, and there he is, asking you to dance. You take his hand, and take your place in the crowd of people swaying and celebrating a new marriage. Welcome to the dance.
What can I say about the wedding dance as a writing prompt? It permeates most cultures, so we’ve all seen it, or can enjoy it on YouTube. When you see the same ritual conducted in so many different settings, it’s easy to imagine it conducted in more fantastic places. A historical Scottish penny wedding, as described on Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion website here. Or a frontier wedding dance on a newly settled planet. Or maybe a fantasy wedding in some delightful fairyland of your imagination.
And of course, what kind of story doesn’t have Things That Go Wrong? Continue reading
“Let’s be honest: Weddings are a really great place to meet men. The bride and groom can vouch for everyone in attendance . . . and the setting is perfect for matchmaking: The mood is jovial, the drinks are plentiful, and the music is just right.” – Glamour, “How to Pick Up a Guy at a Wedding”, July 22, 2014.
LOL, you gotta love Glamour magazine for ficcing up our existence. But, in theory, doesn’t a wedding meet sound like a great way to start a love story? There’s the stress, the expectations, and then the lovely way all the Happy Dreams of the Virgin Road can come tumbling down in conflict and trouble. You’ve got a built-in community. People can convey your backstory in delicious dialogs, and oh, the inner thoughts a POV character can have at a wedding!
I like the idea a lot. I’m a big fan of the “marriage of convenience that turns into love” trope – especially when Georgette Heyer is doing the writing, such as in A Civil Contract.
Then there’s the whole, “I need a date for a wedding,” which is a minor plot driver for my favorite Jennifer Crusie novel, Bet Me. BuzzFeed also tackles this whole date-for-the-wedding issue, but in the context of an established relationship. (“Weird Thoughts All Couples Have at Weddings”, (2:15))
One of my favorite Friends (a 90s American sitcom) episodes is when Monica and Chandler fall hard for each other at a wedding-gone-wrong. Bustle has a time-line of their relationship that claims the relationship goes back to Thanksgiving 1987, but Episode 24 of Season 4 is when we really know.
Finally, there’s the wedding meet. According to this 2015 Telegraph (UK) article, one out of four men admitted to kissing or sleeping with someone they’d met at a wedding. (catcall!) The article has a very interesting perspective of how men view their role as wedding guest – they feel a bit insecure in this social ceremony, so they tend to spend almost as much as women on clothing, beauty treatments and gifts, the author wrote.
Lots of great literature starts with a wedding – and there’s room for more! What’s your favorite wedding story?