Tag Archives: hook

Writing Wednesday: Hung Up on the First Line

18 May

I often get hung up on the first line.  I feel like if I get the first sentence right, the rest of the work will have a better chance of coming out right too.  Maybe that’s because I generally don’t write with an outline.  Rather, I allow the first line to determine the direction of the piece.

That’s probably not the best way to write.  It’s probably better to know what you’re going to say and then say it.  But sometimes it takes writing about something for me to really wrap my head around it.

Unfortunately, that puts a lot of pressure on writing a good first line.  I guess that’s why the whole revision process is so important.

What about you?  Do you know ahead of time exactly how your story is going to conclude?  How does your first line determine the rest of your piece?

Writing Wednesday: Thrown in the Deep End

20 Apr

One of the big MFAisms is: “Start with the action.”

As a journalist, I understand the importance of strong titles and hooks.  You need to entice the reader, draw him in.  I don’t believe, though, that the hook and action are synonymous.

As a reader, I feel flung into the deep end of a cold swimming pool when a story starts with the action.  I splash around trying to figure out where I am and where I can find some solid ground.  Once on dry land again, I feel like I was needlessly jerked around.  I would’ve loved to swim around, but I prefer to stick my feet in first, test the waters.

I felt relieved then when I read Jane Friedman’s article “The Biggest Bad Advice About Story Openings” on her Writer’s Digest blog There Are No Rule.  Friedman states that an opening with lots of action and little characterization, “Delivers a stereotypical crisis moment that’s full of action or pain, but without a center.”

Isn’t that so true?  Doesn’t it seem like all action stories are the same?  The reason action matters in any type of story is because we are intrigued by the characters.

What are your feelings about starting a story with the action?  What does a great hook look like?