Peering into . . .

the inner workings of Alison Miller Woods

Story beginnings March 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 10:55 pm
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First- finishing up the books read in February:
The Black Book of Secrets by F.E. Higgins
Savvy by Ingrid Law
(both of them awesome by the way)

So last I wrote about studying story beginnings. I thought I would let you know what I discovered. I’ve drawn some conclusions and now I’ve moved on to Characters. I’m going to flesh out my characters a bit more, get to know them. Anyway, back to story beginnings. As you probably know, beginnings are important, essential even. But, there are different types of beginnings. To demonstrated, I will share some of my favorite books and their first sentence.

Some books begin with a boom: some type of mortal peril, or danger.

The Black Book of Secrets by F.E. Higgins:
“When I opened my eyes I knew that nothing in my miserable life prior to that moment could possibly be as bad as what was about to happen.”

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner:
“I didn’t know how long I had been in the King’s prison.”

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder:
“Locked in darkness that surrounded me like a coffin, I had nothing to distract me from my memories.”

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman:
“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”

Graceling by Kristin Cashore:
“In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind.”

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale:
“My lady and I are being shut up in a tower for seven years.”

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George:
“It was my aunt who decided to give me to the dragon.”

Some begin with a curiosity. A little something to draw you in, but with less tension or worry.

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst:
“In the darkness, the heart of the fairy tale waited . . . .”

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith:
“The broken shutter in the window creaked a warning.”

Savvy by Ingrid Law:
“When my brother Fish turned thirteen we moved to the deepest part of inland because of the hurricane and, of course, the fact that he’d caused it.”

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott:
“OK – answer me this: why would anyone want to wear an overcoat in San Fransisco in the middle of Summer?”

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy:
“Gordon Edgley’s sudden death came as a shock to everyone – not least himself.”

Other stories began with some type of description of surroundings or character.

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce:
“Each year, at the end of March, a great fair was held in Cria, the capital of Galla.”

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:
“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.”

The Host by Stephenie Meyer:
“The Healer’s name was Fords Deep Waters.”

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter:
“I suppose a lot of teenage girls feel invisible sometimes, like they just disappear.”

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan:
“Look, I didn’t want to be a half blood.”

Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones:
“Will you all be quiet!” snapped High Chancellor Querida.

Even the books that started with a background description, by the end of the first paragraph had some hook. An idea that drew you in. The hardest part of doing all the research was not being pulled into the books and read them all over again.
So, I decided that the beginning was even more important than first realized. I need to revise and rethink my beginning. A way to draw the reader into the story. But, I don’t want something that feels forced. Hmmmm, a quandary. So, once I nail down my characters, it’s back to the beginning.


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