Happy Anniversary!

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Today is my one year anniversary of becoming a writer. On February 8, 2012, at 11:00 p.m., I used Microsoft Word for the first time in my life and decided to write a story. Susan Hunter and M&M’s showed up.

To this day, I still wonder where all of this came from. I had no burning desire to write a book, and I wasn’t even reading very much at the time. I’m sure I was quite bored – in addition to having the winter blues. I suppose most of it came from Rich giving me a Nook Tablet for Christmas. It opened my eyes to the number of indie works out there, and I simply thought, “I’ll give it a go, too.”

And go I did.

Five books in one year. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around this. Maple Leaf Hunter is the sixth book, and the story is underway. I think I have a solid first line this time:

The hot, sweaty man lying on top of me was dead.

Pretty good, eh? (Eh? I’m already practicing my Canadian for the book.) Here’s the rough draft of the first paragraph:

The hot, sweaty man lying on top of me was dead. At least I think he was dead. He didn’t appear to be breathing, while I, on the other hand, was gasping for air from his dead weight on my chest.

We’re off to a good start! And no, for all you pervy types, this isn’t something tawdry. Susan is with Samantha at the food court in the mall.

I’m having fun writing again. I keep reading that we should write to entertain ourselves, and I have that down pat. Already events are taking unexpected twists, and I can’t wait to start writing every day to see what’s going to happen next.

I want to do more marketing this year. With six books in the series, I think I’ll be able to find more creative ways to get Susan Hunter out there than I have in the past. Before I go gung-ho though … please control the shocked look on your face when I tell you …  I’m messing with covers again.

I know!!

We’re supposed to leave the covers alone, but I can’t. Not yet. As much I love the cover of ImageSunshine Hunter, I’m taking Susan’s racquet and gym clothes away from her, and putting her in a sundress. She’ll be walking barefoot on the beach with shoes in hand. I think the look will be more cohesive with the other covers, and it won’t impart such a strong sports theme, which is not the main theme of the book in the first place.

The cover for Big Apple Hunter is then going to be polished and given a more realistic, detailed skyline in the background. I’m one hundred percent happy with the remaining covers. Once the covers are completed and distributed to all sales outlets, I’m going to do my best to try some different avenues for marketing. I’ll keep you posted.Image

 

But for now, champagne for everyone!

Call me Susan.

ImageFirst lines. How important are they? According to a huge number of online articles, your first line is everything.

I have four self-published books. Take a look at these first lines:

My perfectly restored ‘67 Chevy Chevelle careened around the corner at Walsh and Park, the tires squealing in an effort to get my attention. ~Sunshine Hunter

“Susan, Mrs. Colter peed on the floor again.” ~Big Apple Hunter

“Hey, beautiful, do you have any blue underwear?” ~Sin City Hunter

“Stop it!” I whispered.” ~Big Easy Hunter

Detective Bentley’s blood pressure was on the rise as he paced the hallway of the unfamiliar police station. ~Windy City Hunter (not yet published, still messing around with the first line)

I think I swerved into a fairly decent first line for the first book, and now that I’m learning more about writing, I think the last one is pretty good, too. First lines good or bad, I think all of my books are entertaining.

While reading about first lines, I came across this site which lists 100 Best First Lines from Novels. I enjoyed reading it, and I was surprised so many were quite lengthy.

It was a dark and stormy night continues for another 51 words.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times continues for another 48 words.Image

It was love at first sight.  Joseph Heller started Catch-22 with a cliché.

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.  Dodie Smith wrote this first line to I Capture the Castle. I thought it was funny. I wonder if she sat in the bathtub when she wrote The Hundred and One Dalmatians.

Only three of the 100 started with a sentence of dialogue. A few weeks back, I learned this is something taught in classes – do not start your book with dialogue. I did it anyway.

I did shrink the information I gleaned down to a few tips for the first line of a story:
– You want to grab your reader’s attention.
– Your first line should be interesting by asking a spoken or unspoken question, promising something, or offering an unproven idea.
– Show your main character in your first line.
– Show your setting or give a sense of your setting.
– Your style of writing should shine through. Your voice should be identified.

Well, no wonder writing is so hard. That’s a lot to lay on one sentence.

I also read that first sentences are rarely memorable. You are more likely to remember a last line or a last scene. Yet, it is, of course, the first that is used to hook a reader.

As I read the articles, I also read the comments. There were some interesting comments about so much weight being applied to one sentence. Many people responded:

– The first few lines are important, not the first sentence.
– The first few paragraphs will set the tone and writing style.
– The first chapter is the beginning, but it’s not necessarily the beginning of the entire story.

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You take over. What do aspiring writers really need to know about first lines? Does the first line truly do the heavy lifting ascribed to it?