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The 50 Best First Sentences in Fiction

The 50 Best First Sentences in Fiction
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25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing I read this cool article last week — “30 Things To Stop Doing To Yourself” — and I thought, hey, heeeey, that’s interesting. Writers might could use their own version of that. So, I started to cobble one together. And, of course, as most of these writing-related posts become, it ended up that for the most part I’m sitting here in the blog yelling at myself first and foremost. That is, then, how you should read this: me, yelling at me. Then go forth and kick your writing year in the teeth. Onto the list. 1. Right here is your story. 2. Momentum is everything. 3. You have a voice. 4. Worry is some useless shit. 5. The rise of self-publishing has seen a comparative surge forward in quantity. 6. I said “stop hurrying,” not “stand still and fall asleep.” 7. It’s not going to get any easier, and why should it? 8. 9. The mind is the writer’s best weapon. 10. Complaining — like worry, like regret, like that little knob on the toaster that tells you it’ll make the toast darker — does nothing. 11.

A Bibliophile's Defense of Physical Books | The New Republic The committed bibliophile is cousin to the obsessive, an easily seduced accumulator frequently struck with frisson. Cram your home with books, and you’re lovingly called a collector; cram it with old newspapers, and you’re derisively called a hoarder. But be honest: The collector is a hoarder, too—a discriminating and noble-minded hoarder, perhaps, but a hoarder just the same. Not long into George Gissing’s 1903 novel The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, you find a scene that no self-respecting bibliophile can fail to forget. A pleasing vista onto the early twentieth-century life of one English writer, Gissing’s autobiographical novel is also an effusive homage to book love. Exultation is, after all, exactly what the bibliophile feels most among his many treasures. What does it mean when what you own is essential to who you are? But you might have noticed: The book as a physical, cultural object is worth very little and losing value every quarter, it seems.

Let Your Readers Think For Themselves - by Ryan Lanz Please welcome back author and blogger Ryan Lanz. Not long ago, I did a post on showing vs. telling. I’d like to continue along that same vein by talking about ways to allow the reader to think for themselves without being spoon-fed. We often have characters discovering things. The habit authors often get wrapped up in is to announce all of the character’s thoughts. with a sore tooth if I suddenly couldn’t share the character’s thoughts (often directly) with the reader. However, like in many aspects of writing, there are times when the author takes the easy route, often without even realizing it. Using “thought” verbs is certainly an easy route. Instead of spoon feeding your readers that conclusion, instead I encourage you to paint the canvas in a way that shows the reader the situation clearly enough to where the reader discovers that conclusion on their own. Instead of “Colton thought that Tiffany liked him”: Colton felt something brush his hand.

Rare 1959 Audio: Flannery O’Connor Reads ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ Flannery O'Connor was a Southern writer who, as Joyce Carol Oates once said, had less in common with Faulkner than with Kafka and Kierkegaard. Isolated by poor health and consumed by her fervent Catholic faith, O'Connor created works of moral fiction that, according to Oates, “were not refined New Yorker stories of the era in which nothing happens except inside the characters' minds, but stories in which something happens of irreversible magnitude, often death by violent means." In imagining those events of irreversible magnitude, O'Connor could sometimes seem outlandish--even cartoonish--but she strongly rejected the notion that her perceptions of 20th century life were distorted. “Writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eye for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable," O'Connor said. “To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures." Related Content:

Hooking Your Reader in 3 Easy Steps By Sally Apokedak, @sally_apokedak Part of the How They Do It Series No matter what type of stories we write, we want to grab our readers and not let go. Literary agent Sally Apokedak visits the lecture hall today to share a few tips on capturing a reader's attention that are sure to get our attention (and help us write more compelling openings). Sally is a literary agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency and is a popular speaker at writer's conferences around the country. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google Plus Take it away Sally... Wow! And guess how many second pages I've looked at? Yeah. What draws me into a story? 1. That's really all there is to it. And the best way to do that is to give me a character that 1) is in some kind of conflict or that 2) has something mysterious going on in his life. How did his mother die? But don't think jumping right into the action is going to give me the conflict and mystery I'm looking for. That was as far as I got. Was there conflict? 2. 3.

6 Books to Kick Off Post-College Learning This piece was written by Noodle VP of Operations Adam Shapiro. You went to a good college. Learned a lot. (Certainly paid a lot.) No? With your college education and these books, you'll know everything worth knowing. An Incomplete Education 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't An Incomplete Education answers thousands of questions with incomparable wit, style, and clarity. Mental Floss Presents: Condensed Knowledge A Deliciously Irreverent Guide to Feeling Smart Again A great magazine cooked up this hearty helping of brain-food. The Lazy Intellectual Maximum Knowledge, Minimal Effort It's a small-attention-span world out there, and not everyone's interested in paging through lengthy tomes to deepen their intellect. The Intellectual DevotionalRevive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class This daily digest of intellectual challenges and learning will arouse curiosity, refresh knowledge, expand horizons, and keep the mind sharp.

The 3 Essential Elements to Creating a Believable Romance - C. S. Lakin C.S. Lakin runs an amazing blog called Live Write Thrive – haven’t been there yet? Take a peek around, and don’t forget to check out her new book 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing! Boy meets girl. Sparks fly. They fall instantly in love. Oh, really? Well, maybe in fairy tales and with couples who are self-delusional or sickeningly codependent. Not happening. Sure, maybe we all wish romantic love worked that way. And that means creating real characters. Getting Real Doesn’t Happen on Its Own Too many characters in novels are impersonations of real people. Many of the novels I read or critique fall short on creating real characters. It may have something to do with laziness and not wanting to work too hard to create each character. I’m not suggesting we all go into therapy for a while or spend years psychoanalyzing ourselves (although some of us writers might benefit from that). Getting to Know You The Three Most Important Things! Here’s what I do. Let’s break this down.

Story Cartel Developing Our Story: From Beat Sheet to Scene List My regular readers know that I’m a pantser, writing by the seat of my pants. However, it wasn’t always that way. Although the first story I wrote (a never-to-be-shared Harry Potter fanfic) was written spur-of-the-moment with no planning, my first attempt at an original novel involved lots of plotting in advance. I thought that’s what serious authors did. Through that experience, I learned that plotting out details kills a story for me. I enjoy the drafting phase more if I’m discovering the story as I write it. That said, I’m naturally a planner/plotter in the rest of my life. (I highly suspect that my inability to be a plotter is a result of me over-planning…says the over-thinking, over-analyzing writer. Between my natural tendencies and my experience with plotting, I’m a pantser who understands plotters. So when my blog reader Etienne asked me how to build a scene list from a beat sheet, I didn’t react like a normal pantser. The Difference between Beat Sheets and Scene Lists That’s okay.

Want to Work in 18 Miles of Books? First, the Quiz - The New York Times In recent years, much has changed at the Strand. The motto went from “8 miles of books” to “18 miles of books” after an expansion and remodeling in 2005. The store added miles of merchandise, too, from a Strand-branded hat line to Moleskine notebooks and Pocky snack sticks. Perhaps most significantly, for broiling employees, the place finally got central air-conditioning, also in 2005. (“I hated it,” said Mr. Over the years, the quiz has been one of the constants. Laura Donovan, who is now a bookkeeper, worked as a cashier at the Strand in the early ’90s and remembered the quiz, though she had all but forgotten the titles. What she had recalled more vividly was “opening the store in the morning and we’d have all these people out there waiting for the $1 books”; encountering a film crew shooting a scene for the 1993 film “Six Degrees of Separation” in the store; and making lifelong friends. He was hired. The book buyers in the rear of the store also left an impression. Photo Mr. Ms. Mr.

23 Fiction Writing Ideas That Will Revitalize Your Story Posted by Melissa Donovan on September 29, 2015 · Refresh your story with these fiction writing ideas. Sometimes our fiction writing projects dry up. The characters turn out to be flat, the plot becomes formulaic, and the story suddenly seems lackluster. This is when a lot of writers give up and file their half-finished manuscripts into a bottom drawer never to be seen again. What a waste of time and energy. Before giving up on a project, why not try to resurrect it? Fiction Writing Ideas Today’s writing ideas will help you enhance stories that are suffering from a variety of maladies ranging from boring plots to unrealistic characters. Give your characters more than a goal. Got Any Fiction Writing Ideas? Got any tips or ideas to add? About Melissa DonovanMelissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter.

Of Thee I Read: The United States in Literature In my hometown, Elgin, Neb., a hand-lettered sign along the highway that runs through the business district lists the names of the sons and daughters who have left to join the military. It is the town’s way of saying: We will keep you close in our hearts and will not forget you. Remembering those in uniform is as much a part of the Midwest culture today as it was during World War II, when the women around North Platte, Neb., started a canteen at the train depot and fed nearly six million soldiers who passed through on their way to the fighting in the Pacific or in Europe. The story is told by Bob Greene, in “Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen,” through the voices of the soldiers who were met there with homemade food, and through the women who donated their time, food and war rations to feed the troops. “That stop that day was so brief,” Lloyd Synovec said as he described playing the piano during his visit. Mr. Throughout, Mr.

8 Paragraph Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making Words, sentences, and paragraphs–they’re the bricks and mortar of the writing craft. They’re fundamental. If we’re not using them correctly, it doesn’t matter how wonderful our mastery of characters and story structure may be. They’re make-or-break territory. Not long ago, a Wordplayer messaged me, asking if I could write a post on paragraph mistakes. She explained, Someone told me I am not following the paragraphing “rules.” Ouch. Here’s the thing: most of writers don’t give too much thought to paragraphs. Eh, not necessarily. I tell my students: If you are a writer, you have more power than the greatest tyrant in the world because of punctuation. Ready to be a story tyrant? 1. Unless you’re paying ode to Kafka’s Trial, you’re going to want to make sure you’re following this basic rule of giving each dialogue speaker his own paragraph. Not Like This He rubbed the smooth, spiraled twist of a tree trunk. Like This He rubbed the smooth, spiraled twist of a tree trunk. “Bah.” “Doesn’t matter.