Before I found this sight six years ago I had no thoughts of becoming a writer.
To make a long story short, I ended up giving my word to someone that I would write, (to the best of my ability, no one else's) the story we had discussed and was now flooding my mind.
I will not try and name all who have extended an olive branch to me along with their encouraging words(it's not that they're so numerous) I just don't want to leave anyone out. Besides you know who you are.
However, there is one I will single out, and that is Kathleen Dalton Woodbury. I no nothing about being a moderator of any site, but from what I've witnessed since being here, you run a good clean ship.
I have learned some from books recommended by writers on this site, but me and technical books don't get along so well. Like read this, it explains how, but most is mumble jumble to me. You could say I learn better and retain more when shown.
It took me awhile to remember my promise,(write it to the best of my ability)and if only one person reads it and enjoys it(ME) then I have kept my promise.
I have roughly 80k written, now all I need do is start cleaning my first attempts up(big diff I believe since I first started) and piece the chapters together.
Now for the real truth. Trying to conquer the first 13 has driven me crazy and if I don't get away from it, I won't clean up what needs cleaning and then put the chapters in order.
I started out years ago believing I didn't need to study writing, inconvenient too, since it was time taken away from writing. The writing discussions I'd been assigned or recommended up to that time were unimaginative, impenetrable, and of questionable value, easily skimmed with little comprehension or retention and as soon forgotten.
I've since read and studied more valuable texts, though I started in the deep end with works like The Poetics of Aristotle. After I'd read WotF coordinating judge Algis Budrys' Writing to the Point and Orson Scott Card's Characters and Viewpoint and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, among others, I began to understand The Poetics. A few dozen reads and years later, I now have a firm understanding and appreciation for The Poetics and a generally easier time with other writing about writing texts.
Those ones that had been assigned, though, my opinions of their values hasn't changed, except for one or two that genuinely have salient points. The rest, still poorly organized and overly obfuscated, patently to me written by writers ignorant of writing's demands, as though written for a requirement rather than as a passionate shared knowledge.
Hatrack's thirteen lines principle becomes a tool once it is realized and appreciated as a principle, first of all. Not as a high-pressure law or even rule, merely guidance for a submission making its way past an initial, off-the-cuff screening rejection. Automatic rejection is the norm, since no publisher can possibly publish every submission, nor become involved in working with a writer to develop the product such that it suits the publisher's needs. And the sheer volume of submissions any house receives make reading every one in its entirety an impossible and mind-numbing task.
One concept to keep in mind for thirteen lines fragments is to not give any overt reason to stop reading. Grammar faults are an easy rejection, perhaps the easiest. Next are, of course, story and plot, event, setting, character development, craft principles.
However, a great number of publishers and literary agents express a desire for vivid and robust voices as a stand out from the fray. Too many submissions that cross their desks or desktops have lackluster voices: simply put, emotionally lackluster attitudes. This happens here to this person, and so on, no attitude, no emotion, no meaning: anecdote, vignette, and sketch--premature submission. Voice amplification is often the last item of revision or not considered for revision at all, it should be first after a draft is completed.
Voice is partly the tone of a work, which is the attitude toward a topic or subject, though also the emotional reaction, whether subjective or objective attitude, the mood in the sense of emotional ambience: sad, forelorn, happy, joyful, etc. Voice is also the particular irony rhetoric deployed. Without irony, a narrative lacks for voice. A narrative must have an overall irony.
Then, in a final analysis, audience appeal is also worth consideration, certainly is a matter a screening process will consider. Does the submission have enough audience appeal that it's a safe risk for the expenses of publication? Audience appeal may orient around, say genre, science fiction, fantasy, or horror; western, mystery, thriller, romance, or literary or crossovers among the many. Or appeal may orient on subject matter, topics like war and peace, vocation, family, relationships, or aesthetics like irony and powerful voice and emotional appeals. However, the crux of what matters for audience appeal is the moral challenges of the human condition. Period.
For thirteen lines, a start begins with that latter: what is the moral human condition on point and that the attitude addreses such that a routine is first established, all the while portending that an interruption of the routine is pending, ominous, menacing. A straightforward method for starting there is to show an emotional equilibrium upset of proportionate proportions is about to take place. Some kind of emotionally unsettled routine that implies all is not well morally, about to go morally awry.
The routine need not be humdrum, blasé, dull, though it can be. Bored with life begins many a narrative, the boredom itself an impetus to act out for excitement's sake. On the other hand, a daily grind under lethal fire in front line battlefield trenches may also be a routine or other moral challenges of the human condition.
One of the many writing guidances worth consideration is Three hundred sixty-five days in a year, the day that's different is where a story begins. That day's routine interruptus is the impulse to act, to satisfy the antagonizing wants and problems raised by the routine's interruption. And not solely an external complication, a moral one as well. Like war is evil or war is a necessary evil or war is a noble, glorious pastime, or whatever. The point being that an opening must raise that moral crisis and not decide, not satisfy it until later, ideally the end.
extrinsic, I believe a thank you is in order for helping me solve my 13 line dilemma. Once again I was going to discard an opening because I didn't know any better, but what you wrote opened my eyes. ------------------------------------------------------------- [QUOTE] For thirteen lines, a start begins with that latter: what is the moral human condition on point and that the attitude addreses such that a routine is first established, all the while portending that an interruption of the routine is pending, ominous, menacing.
That got the wheels turning, and then. ------------------------------------------------------------- [QUOTE]
The routine need not be humdrum, blasé, dull, though it can be. -------------------------------------------------------------- The second quote sealed it for me. I now believe I have my first 13 and I am going to post it and not worry about it anymore. It's not perfect, needs refining, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I know I need voice and style, but I'll try and get help with that later. Now I want to get the story down, and settling on my first 13 takes a load off my shoulders. Now it's going to get fun again. Cleaning up chapters and piecing them together to bring the story to life.
Craig, write first and edit later, that's my motto. Once you know what story you are writing and have a semi-clear idea of your destination, just sit down and write it without looking back. Don't worry about spelling, grammar, voice or anything else; just get the story on the page.
Once you're written dry, put the story away for at least a week and try not to think about it. Then, re-read it and start editing. That may mean restructuring some scenes etc, so do that first -- for the entire story. Then when you're satisfied with the structure of the story start editing for voice, tone and flavour. After that, start editing for grammar and those other pesky little technical writing thingies.