Saturday, August 10, 2013

First Impressions

Last week, I got in a good stretch of writing. The word count is now around 6,000 words. I think that I've got a solid, suspenseful opening and am now into the investigation part - hiding clues in plain site and keeping the plot from veering off. This part of the manuscript involves a lot of thinking. The bottom line is that the story has to be plausible. The dots have to connect. Kind of the opposite of real life. This book is due in November. I thought I had a ton of time, but November is only three months away. As a result, I'll be nose to the computer again this weekend.

Tim Wynne-Jones has said that the opening paragraph and chapter really drive the book. If the opening pages aren't spot on, exciting, suspenseful and well written, the book won't have the proper engine. I read an article this week about Stephen King and the amount of time he puts into crafting an opening sentence. I like his statement: "An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this." It's worth giving King's entire article a read (link above). The man is a brilliant writer, but you already knew that.

King got me thinking about my opening sentences. The Cold Mourning opening line in my first draft drove the entire mystery: "The girl had been crouching in the tall grass for what felt like a very long time." The opening line to My Sister's Keeper likewise set the voice of my main character Anna Sweet: "It was the middle of a steamy August night in Kermit, Texas, and my bedside phone was ringing." If you are like me, I always read the opening sentence before buying a book. I'm curious about how every author begins their tale. The art and science of writing.

As we draw closer to the release date of September 3rd for My Sister's Keeper and The Hard Fall, plans are underway for an event in Ottawa at the Ottawa Tech school on Albert Street and in Toronto at the North York Library. Neither date is confirmed, but both are in the works. Alan Cumyn will also be launching a Grass Roots Press book at the Ottawa event. His novella is part of their Goodreads series.

Alan and I were two of the authors at a Kids Lit Gala some years ago now. We each had to read a short selection from our latest book (I think it was my only book at the time) and I remember being very impressed by his writing. I'm thrilled to be sharing the stage with him as we introduce our new novels. People, Words and Change, an adult literacy organization in Ottawa is spearheading the coordination of the event. Oddly enough, I taught a class for them for a year many moons ago. I was also a speaker at their fund-raising breakfast a few years ago alongside Coach Brian Kilreay, CBC sports anchor Terry Marcotte and Mayor Jim Watson. A very worthwhile organization in our community, helping adults have better lives. Patrick Walton made up a little video of my remarks.

Man, time passes quickly. It's good to have so many good memories.

Another gorgeous weekend in the Ottawa Valley. The cross breeze was lovely this morning as I lay in bed with the skylight and windows open. The sky is a powder blue and the neighbours' kids are already racing around their yards, shrieking with laughter. The sun is filtering through the front pine outside my office window. I've had a second cup of coffee on the front verandah and it's now time to get the day underway. Wishing you all a super August weekend . . . .


  1. You've made my day! So good to hear from someone in Kermit - I'd like to visit some day :-) What a great name for a town.