Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spilling Ink: Days 8 and 9

"It was an airport gypsy who told me that I had to kill my husband."

That's the first line of Backseat Saints, by Joshilyn Jackson.  Kinda grabs you, doesn't it? 

I have a confession to make.  I do judge a book by its cover.  But I also judge it by the first line.  It has to grab me, make me catch my breath, or cause me to wonder.  In Section 9 of Spilling Ink, the authors, Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter, discuss some strategies for beginning a story.  They dare us to make a list of potential beginnings. They tell us that even if we don't have story ideas, we can just write irresistible first lines in the hopes of creating some sparks that will fuel a fire of creativity.  A few first lines seem doable, right?

We pinky-promised that we would never, ever speak of the events of that day again.
They say you can't go home.  They, whoever they may be, are correct.
I spent my freshman year in high school in silence.
I heard rumors about her before I ever laid eyes on her.
The butterflies in my stomach felt more like pterodactyls.

I love working on beginnings with students.  I use this list of great beginnings to give kids concrete strategies to use.  There are so many to choose from!

In Section 8 of Spilling Ink, the topic is finding the correct narrative voice for yourself.  There are short, informative explanations of first, second, and third person narration.  I learned a lot!  I tend to automatically go to first person when I write.  There is something very comfortable about it for me. I guess I really have not given it much thought, though.  In elementary school in our system, we concentrate on first and third person.  The authors discuss the variances in third person-- the know-it-all and the robot, to name just two.  You've just got to get a copy of the book for yourself.  I so don't do it justice.

1 comment:

  1. A bit of a cheat (mine, I mean, not yours!), but hey, they're first lines...