Yesterday’s post raised in part the issue of the first line, the first paragraph; but it bugged me after I’d published it because I thought I had not said what else I had felt needed saying. And the post was long enough already. So I decided I’d add this specifically this morning.
As I had considered in that post what I wrote and how I did, I had also shared this:
That excerpt from what will be the new book is from “mid-story.” As I now reread that which I wrote about 24 hours ago, and considering where I am heading next, I realize one of my driving forces to write is because I LOVE writing “THEM.” Moreover over the course of a book I LOVE “discovering more” about “THEM” too.
Such “discoveries” we experience together: writer and reader.
Later I posted this about it to Instagram:
So I find an obsession with “gripping” opening lines to be misplaced. Yes, a decent start is necessary to involve readers. However, even if you feel you have invented the best opener in literature since Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – if what follows does not really go anywhere, uh, so what?
Indeed aiming to craft an opening sentence or a first paragraph summing “THEM” (and everything else) up is a ridiculous goal if “they” are meant to have a depth and are “intriguing” – to borrow “Pierre’s” word above about that lady – enough to hold our attention and be read about for hundreds of pages to follow. In fact, if you have read Conventions: The Garden At Paris, I am sure you can guess who “she” above is? And that in its way makes my point.
I admit I adore some of those “who” I write, and my hope is that over the course of a book that a reader comes to do so as well. Ultimately it is then the final page that to me matters the most… not because of how “great” or “sharp” its concluding words might be. Rather it is because, the journey alongside “these people” now concluded, a reader sits back and hopefully recalls and thinks about “them” and so much else of what went before in the preceding 300 or 400 or 500 pages…
…and took it in, and it touched them and stayed with them in some ways.
Have a good Tuesday, wherever you are. 🙂
UPDATE: I replaced the original Distances narrative excerpt used in the post with that version above, which includes the cover and an additional explanatory first paragraph.