Monday, June 18, 2012


Learning how to write well is an ongoing process and reading work by other authors is a big part of that process.  One of the "rules" of writing is to start off with a bang, either first sentence or first paragraph.  I've been thinking lately that maybe that isn't always the smart way to unfold your story.  Reading this except from Charles Dodd White's upcoming novel, "Benediction" is a grand lesson in unfolding your story.  He manages to show you character, setting, emotions, well, just plain everything without beating you upside the head with action and big bangs.  What he does is make you care about the character by letting you step into her shoes.  A truly beautiful way to set up a story.  You can read his opening here


Jim Harrington said...

Interesting post, Sandra. It's important to remember the "rules" are different for different formats. Editors expect to be "hooked" by the end of the first paragraph of a short story. Novelists are given more leeway.

sandra seamans said...

That's true, Jim, but if this were a short story, I know I'd want to learn more about this woman after reading that first paragraph.

Maybe it's just that reading so many crime shorts I'm tired of getting slapped with a body or a drug crazed bad guy in the first paragraph.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I rarely take this into consideration. Perhaps I should but I am always interesting in setting the scene or introducing a character.

sandra seamans said...

Yes, I'm finding myself leaning in that direction more and more, Patti. I find the stories much more satisfying.

Since I started with flash writing, the need to get that bang at the beginning is very powerful. Plus almost every editor and publisher wants to be pulled into the story with that first sentence or paragraph. Sometimes that's all some of them read.

I guess at this point I'm trying to find that balance of both bang and introduction of setting and characters.