Posts Tagged "women writers"

Thankful for choice

 

Happy day-after-Turkey-day, rockers! I do hope you all had a wonderful day with loved ones, and are now lounging around in pjs, contemplating yet another fridge raid. I spent Thanksgiving in North Carolina with my family. And when I say FAMILY, I mean a solid THIRTY-EIGHT of my nearest and dearest. It was wonderfully chaotic, and I’m so grateful to have spent the day the way we did.

You might have noticed that we’re coming up on the end of the month, and this is only my second blog in November. I usually try to blog about once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. But this month, I’ve been slightly absent from the blogosphere. Here’s why.

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National Novel Writing Month is HERE!

National Novel Writing Month is HERE!

If you’re anything like me, you’re dragging a little today. Chalk it up to another Halloween having come and gone. Or chalk it up to being entirely too full of Reese’s peanut butter cups. Whatevs.

But despair not, my writers and readers and chocolate peanut butter cup eaters. Because TODAY begins National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a NaNoWriMo. In a nutshell, NaNoWriMo is meant to inspire writers of all ages to quit talking about that novel we’ve all got in us, and ACTUALLY WRITE IT. It’s as simple as signing up, setting a word count goal for yourself, and tracking your progress throughout the month of November. And if you meet your goal by the end of the month and wind up with a new novel? You. Win.

Novel idea, no? (You may now guffaw and slap your knees.)

You can check out the rules and regs of NaNoWriMo, along with inspiring words from some of your favorite authors and a few choice FAQs, here. To get you off on the write foot (People! Am I on a roll today, or what?), here are my Top 5 Must-Haves, in no particular order, for NaNoWriMo– the things I desperately need for a month of productive writing. Your list might be different. In which case you should post in the Comments section below. And then you should go, you know, write a novel.

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5 Things Every First Sentence Should Do

5 Things Every First Sentence Should Do

These last few weeks, I’ve started writing the sequel to How to Rock Braces and Glasses. Let me paint you a picture: I am sitting at a perfectly organized desk, gazing out the window at a lovely view. The ocean, perhaps. Then: inspiration strikes. My fingers hit the keyboard and I’m off, typing so fast that my immaculate workspace starts to smell faintly of smoke and genius.

Okay. Now, let me paint you a more realistic picture. I am in my pajamas, as I have been for the past three days straight. I am sitting in bed with my laptop in my lap, staring at a blank Word document. The blinking cursor is mocking me. I decide that I have made a terrible mistake in life. What ever possessed me to write another book? I decide that I will get very good at math and organizing things and become an accountant. I weep. I take my dog on a walk in my pajamas, looking suspiciously like an escaped mental patient.

I have always found writing the first sentence of any piece of writing to be the hardest part of the whole endeavor. The task feels so weighty, so intensely important. If I don’t come up with the perfect first sentence, I tell myself, everything else will, frankly, suck. On the bright side, no one will know that the rest of the book sucks, because they won’t bother to read past the first sentence. 

To be fair, no first sentence should have to shoulder all this responsibility. But there are several things a few sentence should do. Take a look at some of my favorite first sentences (and the lines that follow) from both young adult and adult novels. I love them for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that they help me to illustrate the Five Things Every Good First Sentence Should Do. I smell a list coming on. Also, smoke. And genius.

  • A good first sentence should evoke a strong, immediate response from the reader. I’m using the word “response” loosely here. What I really mean is that the first sentence should immediately engage the reader, ideally on an emotional level. Some of my favorite first lines are those that elicit anger, or sadness, or intense joy right off the bat. Take a look at the opening lines of DELIRIUM, by Lauren Oliver. When I first read these lines, I felt shock, coupled with anger at the idea of a world  such as the one Oliver starts to paint here:
It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure. My older sister, Rachel, has been disease free for nine years now. She’s been safe from love for so long, she says she can’t even remember its symptoms. I’m scheduled to have my procedure in exactly ninety-five days, on September 3. My birthday.
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Words for summer

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One of the things I want to start doing more of, blog-wise, is to share passages, writing prompts, or thoughts from other writers that I find inspirational. Re-reading a favorite poem or book always gets my creative juices flowing, and I’m hoping it’ll do the same for you. If nothing else, maybe you’ll discover a writer or piece of writing you’ve never encountered before.

Here are a lovely few lines from Zelda Fitzgerald. These lines conjure up such a vibrant, vivid image of summer– reading them almost makes me feeling like I’m sitting in the sand, coated in that yummy salty film you get from spending the day at the beach.

I wish we could spend July by the sea, browning ourselves and feeling water-weighted hair flow behind us from a dive. I wish our gravest concerns were the summer gnats. I wish we were hungry for hot dogs and dopes, and it would be nice to smell the starch of summer linens and the faint odor of talc in blistering summer bath houses. We could lie in long citoneuse beams of the five o’clock sun on the plage at Juan-les-Pins and hear the sound of the drum and piano being scooped out to sea by the waves.

Go ahead. Breathe in that salt air.

Happy summer,

mh

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