Saturday, June 14, 2008

First Sentences

There wasn't much verb in my day yesterday. An hour class in the morning put me into a strange headspace - I napped in the afternoon, read a little Rilke. Later in the day I took Helen to the mall to hang out with her friend, and I did the three hour "vulture mom" loop of the Sprawl-Mall area. Most of my time was spent in the air-conditioned big-box bookstore, where I read the first sentences of various novels. I wasn't motivated enough to write them down, but I think I'm going to make that an exercise to work on today. I have enough books here at home to start it for sure. I'm not positive where I'll go with the idea from there, but it was fascinating to see how authors "grab" their readers. That first sentence is an important one. Francine Prose talks about how she keeps books that have good first sentences in them very near to her writing desk.

I also browsed the "how to" and "how not to" write a novel books. Funny how most of the advice is similar, and the authors of those books have their own novels on the bargain racks of the store. That's not to say that these books aren't helpful at all - but I really think that what you need to write are just three things:

1. An idea
2. Motivation
3. A good editor

The rest is personal preference and ritual. Time to brew the coffee.

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