During one of many long internet surfing sessions, I discovered this blog by author K.M. Weiland. I love it! She’s “helping writers become authors” with tons and tons of blog posts about various elements of writing. In keeping with the theme of beginnings, I wanted to share this gem from Weiland’s blog about writing good opening lines that will hook readers and make them keep reading.
The entire post can be found at http://wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.com/2011/09/5-elements-of-riveting-first-line.html, but here’s an excerpt:
“The opening line of your book is your first (and, if you don’t take advantage of it, last) opportunity to grab your reader’s attention and give him a reason to read your story. That’s a gargantuan job for a single sentence. But if we break down opening lines, we discover a number of interesting things. One of the most surprising discoveries is that very few opening lines are memorable.”
At first, I thought, “What?” But Weiland goes on to ask the reader to recall the opening lines of the last five books you’ve read, and she’s right. Even my very top favorites, like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series or any of Emily Giffin’s novels, aren’t engraved in my memory!
The opening sentence, a notorious labor for many of us, really isn’t all that memorable to those who will eventually read our work! Check out Weiland’s post for her “5 Elements of Riveting First Lines” and stop fretting over those first sentences!
Figuring out where to start a writing project has always been difficult for me. I found this technique on dailywritingtips.com and after many semesters of writing courses, I’ve actually never heard of it before. It’s called “Cubing” and the idea is that you look at a subject from 6 different angles (like a cube has 6 sides!).
Here’s the excerpt from the website:
In this strategy, a topic or idea is examined from six distinct viewpoints — hence the name. Describe the topic (what is it?), compare it (what is it like or unlike?), associate it (what does it make you think of?), analyze it (what constituent parts is it made of?), apply it (how can it be used?), and argue for and/or against it (how can you support or oppose it?).
Cubing was developed as a critical-thinking exercise to help students express their thoughts in opinion essays, but it can be adapted for general nonfiction writing, though it is of limited value for fiction.
A similar technique is to explore three perspectives: The first is to describe the topic and its features, its constituent parts, and its challenges, and to compare and contrast it with other topics. The second is to trace the history of the topic and the influences on it throughout that history, and the topic’s evolution. The third is to map the topic to similar contemporary topics as well as to its influences, and to topics that it influences.
Here’s the link for some other strategies from dailywritingtips.com: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/5-brainstorming-strategies-for-writers/