Tuesday, 5 January 2010

More Snow


I ran out of reading matter on Saturday night due to the heavy snow falls. (Yes, I know that to you people who regularly experience heavy snowfalls, the eight inches we’ve received must seem piddlingly small, but to us, who haven’t seen snow that lasted more than 24 hours for at least ten years, this is A Big Event) So anyway, to get back to the matter of reading - I went back to Writing the Breakout Novel by Maass.
Bought it last year, read it and wondered what all the fuss was about. Let me tell you, what he writes is making much more sense this time around!
For example, his advice on first pages has really started me thinking. In general, I’m a fan of the in media res school ~ start with everyone on the run, and the reader playing catch up. And so, it seems, is he. His comments made a lot of sense, especially those on Bridging Conflict, so in case you haven’t heard, (but really to reinforce the information in my mind,) here is my interpretation of what he says:
Bridging Conflict – a mini conflict or tension strong enough to carry the reader to the next step in the narrative. The effect lasts half a page, and after that, another spark of tension is required. These little jolts continue throughout the story. He quotes the first lines Carson McCullough used in A member of the Wedding:
“It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was 12 years old. That was the summer when for a long time she had not been a member.”
Don’t those two lines make you curious? They did me. Wouldn’t you read on? I did.
So now I am busy rethinking the opening page of my wip. And I’m excited about it.
In spite of the fact that it snowed again last night and my exercise class is cancelled because people can't get to it.

4 comments:

Caroline Storer said...

Brrr it is cold out there isn't it!?

Interesting about the opening scene. I always try to start off with some sort of action or dialogue. Catch the reader on the first page and try to keep them hooked. That's what I've been told. Take care. Caroline x

Anne Gilbert said...

Maass has some interesting things to say. But I wouldn't follow him "exactly" unless your novel actually calls for this. I do, however, think it's important to get a first chapter that really "hooks" the reader in such a way that he or she will want to keep reading. This is "probably" going to involve action of some kind, and it's going to hint at some kind of conflict. Other than that, I can only say it (probably) depends. . . .

Anita Davison said...

Interesting post, Jen and we have lots of snow 'down south' here too. I have stopped singing the Let It Snow... song, it's lost appeal. Anyway, punchy first lines that catch attention are a good idea, but slightly harder to achieve when you are writing in the 17th Century. Elizabeth threw herself into the saddle and clipped a Roundhead on the helmet on her way to the gate.... doesn't quite work!!!

Jen Black said...

It is so difficult, isn't it? Everyone's idea of interesting is slightly different. I think I always knew I wasn't happy with the opening lines, but rushed on with the rest of the story - but I'll have to go back to it at some point!
Jen