Monday, June 25, 2012

What if?

 This morning as I was baking turnovers, the title of a book I am reading popped into my head.  The book is "What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers" by: Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. I will post a full review after I have worked through more of the exercises.   The first exercise caught my attention right away. "First Sentences: beginning in the Middle" This exercise challenges the writer to to think of a line that will grab the readers attention. Just for fun, I pulled three books from very different genres from my shelves and looked at the opening lines.

Mystery fiction "Cover Her Face" by P.D. James: Exactly three months before the killing at Martingale Mrs. Maxie gave a dinner party.

Historical fiction "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Phillipa Gregory: "I could here a roll of muffled drums."

From the self help section, "The Secret by Rhonda Byrne: " A year ago, my life had collapsed around me."

Think a moment about the reasons you might want to read these books. I bought "Cover Her Face" in an airport book store. That first line and the remaining paragraph are what prompted a five minute decision on a book to read during my flight and subsequent layover. "The Other Boleyn Girl"  started a love affair with all things Tudor. When I read the first line of "The Secret", I thought, Your Poor Lady. Like most others whose lives are not perfect though, I went on to read this book and the following two books by Rhonda Byrne.

I learned from this lesson to make that first line, in that first chapter, on that first page, really grab that reader. I want the reader to feel something or to arouse their curiosity until it cannot be contained. The three authors above demonstrate the ability to engage their readers. The "What If" techniques will give us the ability to form a great and memorable story.

So this morning, as I sit outside eating said turnovers, I will continue to think "What if?" I will ignore the obvious answer to "What If I eat too many turnovers?"  This is research and they are fuel for the machine. Have a great day!

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