Seeking my opening line

The opening line of a novel is one of the worst struggles for writers.

It has been my worst obstacle ever since I started writing my manuscript. I have changed it so many times, but still haven’t found the one. Here I am, still revising and searching.

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There are so many types of opening lines out there.

Inspirational

Impactful

Simple

Vivid

Surprising

Or, perhaps, opening lines are a combination of these.

As a part of my journey, I have researched other lines for my own inspiration. If you’d like to check out some ideas here are a few:

100 Best First Lines of Novels

38 Best First Lines in Novels

Hook, Line and Sinker

I went to my TBR pile and listed first lines out of the following books:

I hate First Friday. – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache. – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed. – The Magicians by Lev Grossman

When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic. – The Selection by Kiera Cass

So, here is where you come in. The next step of my mission to find the opening line is to ask my writer friends to read the following potential lines and vote for their favorite. Or, come up with another version. Friendly critiques are welcome!


Line 1: I stared at the blue door with anguish.

Line 2: The blue door that once gave me passage for comfort, now wrenched my heartstrings.

Line 3: The other side of this blue door would never be the same.

Line 4: The blue door never stood in my way before now.


And for perspective, here is the rest of the opening after the first line:

Today would be the first time I entered the coffee shop without seeing my dad behind the counter. Through the cracked window, I watched the busy morning picking up. Business as usual. Another customer breezed past me and swung open the blue door without hesitation. My chest rattled and a tingle encroached my skin. A savory medium roast escaped through the old door and cloaked my senses, attempting to hug my soul. But the distinct coffee fragrance was absent of my dad’s presence.


Thank you for your time! If I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Day 256: 9 Words to Get Rid of In Your Writing

I’m currently in the major revision cycle! This helped me a ton!

In the Garden of Eva

YESTERDAY’S STATS:

# of pages written: 8.5

# of literary mags submitted to: 2

I have a flash fiction piece coming out in Compose Journal this spring, and recently the fiction editor asked me to look at a “few little things” that needed reworking in my story. She had uploaded my story onto google docs, and all three of the Compose editors had made comments. A lot of comments. I went through and responded to them, and they commented back. We haggled a bit when I didn’t want to switch the order of two sentences or get rid of a word I thought was necessary.

But I did end up deleting words, reworking a few sentences, and adding a new description to the ending. Through it all, they encouraged and supported me. This, I thought, my heart swelling, must be what it feels like to have a really great editor…

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Character Eye Descriptions: The Window to Your Story

Get away from the cliches. Eyes are windows to the soul blog post from @SharlaWrites. #writetip #amwriting #writingtips

Writers In The Storm Blog

By Sharla Rae, @SharlaWrites

Sharla_EyePhotopinIf poets are to be believed,eyes are the windows to the soul.

Rather than using clichéd or common descriptions,why not use “explicit” eye descriptions to give your reader a real peek into a character’s psyche?

I’ll touch on eye color, movement, and appearance and, of course, I have some helpful lists to inspire ideas.

Eye color

It’s a given that writers mention eye color as a character feature. Color can be mentioned every so often to remind readers what the character looks like. But! Don’t hit them over the head with it.

Besides using eye color as a facial feature it can sometimes be used to identify who is speaking especially if the color distinctive.

Blue eyes widened and she threw up both hands. “Now hold on a minute.”
OR
Her amber cat eyes narrowed. “xxxx”

A character might have plain old blue or brown…

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Slowly killing adverbs quietly and softly

When I write, I just write. For the most part, I just want to flush thoughts out onto a page. I worry about revising and editing later. Well. Sometimes.

One day, I tried this online tool called Edit Minion to catch sneaky things like adverbs and prepositions and weak words. It found several adverbs in my first chapter, so I decided to search through my entire young adult fantasy MS of 73,000 words.

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This was the result:

  • Slowly = 45
  • Quickly = 45
  • Probably = 34
  • Suddenly = 28
  • Especially = 20
  • Gently = 16
  • Carefully = 9
  • Loudly = 8
  • Softly = 8
  • Simply = 7
  • Strangely = 6
  • Swiftly = 6
  • Deeply = 3

Yikes, right? But think about it this way.

Adverbs are pesky opportunities in your writing. They give you a chance to write out thoughts in the moment of your creative writing time. Your writing time is precious and valuable, so don’t let pesky adverbs hinder your flow. Adverbs are simply placeholders to return back to and revise later.

Just based on what I’ve learned in my journey, you want to minimize adverbs in your writing. Here are some ideas:

  1. Adverbs can be replaced with either stronger verbs or stronger description.
  2. Rearrange your sentences.
  3. You can also delete adverbs completely, leaving the line up to your reader’s imagination.
  4. You can keep some adverbs. Adverbs aren’t always the bad guy in writing, especially if used moderation.

I have put together some revised examples for you. Please note that my MC’s voice has changed during this process and these examples are from my WIP (so it’s not polished).

Revised examples:

Original: The heart was trapped within the roots, still struggling, trying to escape. I quickly looked away, hoping it wouldn’t start moving again.

Revised: The sharp ends of the roots pierced into the struggling heart, causing it to bulge from strangulation. The scene was so intriguing; I was unable to look away.

 

Original: Heavy breathing trickled down the back of my neck as I bumped right into something large. I jumped away quickly and let out a gasp.

Revised: A sudden puff of warmth tickled the back of my neck, and the hairs on my arm stood straight up. Someone or something was right behind me. I jumped forward, looked over my shoulder and let out a gasp.

 

Original: I didn’t say anything and remained crumbled on the ground. I applied more pressure on my arm, trying to ignore the pain and my urge to faint, and the blood slowly stopped coming out.

Revised: I didn’t say anything and remained crumbled on the ground. The blood slowed as I applied more pressure on my arm, trying to ignore the pain and my urge to faint. 

 

Original: I stretched my neck a little farther and caught a glimpse of something. Then, suddenly, when my eyes adjusted, the other prisoner was right in front of me. “There you are,” he said when our eyes met.

Revised: I stretched my neck a little farther and caught a glimpse of the silver mark on his arm. “There you are,” he said when our eyes met through the bars.