Saturday, January 23, 2010

Openings: Part I--I’m working on my opening paragraph and I could use your help.

The infrequent postings in the last two months have been due to work and family events. I have continued to read and take copious of notes, but actual work on the book has been stalled. I haven’t written a respectable sentence in nearly 6 weeks.

In the last week though, I’ve settled into my routine again of getting up early, having my coffee by the warm fire and writing. Finally, the rough draft of Chapter 2 is complete (well, as complete as anything ever is when you’re writing a book). My goodness, I’ve delivered babies easier than this!

My goal now is to work the first three chapters into a cohesive flowing third draft.

One of the reference books I regularly use is, The Complete Book of Novel Writing by Meg Leder, Jack Heffron and the editors of Writer’s Digest. The chapter, The Fifty-Page Dash by Dave King, an independent editor, discussed the all important “hook” that must grab the reader in the first fifty pages. He goes on the say that the opening pages are where the writer must create the tension to drive the reader onward, that the conflict for the main character must be compelling and link to the plot through subsequent scenes.

After my Chapter 1 was critiqued by the Boulder Writer’s Meetup Group, I put it aside. I only meant for that to be a week or two, but it’s been a couple of months now. One of the critiques was that my Chapter 1, which ends at the scene of the car accident, might be a better chapter five. Um! I’ll give that some thought. Other comments included: the characters have clear, distinct voices, but need to be more interesting, quirky; there’s a gentle sweetness to the chapter, but there needs to be more tension; show some bad behavior about the marriage gone bad; embellish the scenes more; dialogue needs to be more forceful; the chapter is constrained by the facts; it’s not believable how perfect the main character’s life is; the characters are real, believable and comfortable to get to know; great style; there’s a richness to the mother and daughters’ relationships; the chapter opens too slowly, it needs to grab the reader’s attention better; needs more action. I very much appreciated those people who took their time to read and comment on this first chapter. It helps a great deal.

I’m working on my opening paragraph and I could use your help. I’ll be posting four or five samples of an opening paragraph, which may turn out to be the opening page and would like your opinion. The basic question is: does this hook you? Would buy the book based on just this? If it doesn’t hook you, your comments would be most helpful.

The sun is rising. It’ll be a reasonably warm January day. Something got done during today’s writing time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Death changes things for the living.

It’s been a little over four months since this project began—blogging about writing my book Out of the Darkness. And, as one might imagine, life happens, things change. 
Kevin’s mother died on Monday the 14th of December.  His father died on a Monday too.  It was also the 14th of the month.  It was seventeen months ago.
I came late in their lives.  I didn’t get to know them well.  But, in the aftermath--the chores of cleaning up a life or lives--I am getting to know them.  It makes me smile.  Kevin is so much like each of them in different ways. The nut doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
Kevin’s poem to his mother:


          An anxious breeze
            A fractured, rustling scape,
          Unsettled mind
            Swirling, amorphous shapes.

          The thinning veil
            A sparkling curtain of light,
          The beckoning hands of her lover
            From the other side.
          Resurgent hope and promises to keep
            Melt into a euphoric peace.

          Mesmerized by that dazzling light
            Drawing her softly to the source,
          Sans fright.  She acquiesces willingly
            To its all-enveloping serenity.

One of the themes of the book-Out of the Darkness--is ascension to hope. 
Darkness turns into light/hope.  Death becomes rebirth.  Endings transition into beginnings.
It is my belief that all energy simply transforms itself and that there is never an ending in the way we might think. 
The day after my father died nearly seven years ago now, I saw him.  I did.  I was sitting in the family room in my big chair for my morning meditation.  I opened my eyes and there he stood.  Before me was not the old frail man who had just died, but my father about the age of 40, dark wavy hair, handsome, lean.  He was wearing khaki pants and a white button down shirt and dark loafers.  He didn’t speak to me, but simply smiled. And that smile spoke a thousand words and I was shown briefly, very briefly the beauty, peace and love from the other side.
Kevin’s parents are on that side now. Their human pain and suffering is over.  The anxiety, the fear, the loneliness have been transformed into peace, love and belonging.
Death changes things for the living, because death transforms us.