Busy Bee

February 22, 2012

I AM BUSY BEE! (And yes, I meant that in a singular sense. As in, I am the one and only, The Mighty, Busy Bee)

Okay, I’m sort of busy. And I’m not a bee at all. (Though I do sometimes hum…which is almost like buzzing)

I have been writing…

Wow. Seems weird to write that.

I have been writing…

Yup, still strange.

Anyway, like I mentioned previously, I have begun writing what will become my first novel. The first chapter (which is where I am) is going to be all chock full of crazy little things that will, hopefully, interest my reader enough to continue. Still, I’m having concerns about the whole “first line” issue.

In my previous attempts at writing (as seen here on my little blog here) I have always tried to open up with an interesting sentence. But I feel like this is a little bit much. Like a gimmick or something. Maybe it should only be used in a short story setting?

Yes, I know I shouldn’t worry about it too much because, hey, that’s what editing is for. Knowing this, I hold the opinion that this kind of thing really shapes what the opening scene of my novel will be about. If I do a “cold” open, that could really drop the reader into an exciting place, or it could put them in a place and leave them confused. If I open with some exposition, it could be pretty boring.

Decisions, decisions…

Oh, you have an opinion to share here? Then please do so at the bottom.

And another thing.

So, you know how you read a novel and sometimes you get one of these neat little… I dunno what to call it… “bonus chapter”?

Let me explain.

You’re reading about your main character all the time. And if not, most of the time. Maybe you give your other minor characters some perspective in your story and it keeps the flow interesting. But have you ever read one of those chapters that seems to… not fit…but totally fits?



Let’s look at the Ransom Trilogy for a second here…In the book “That Hideous Strength” you are always following Ransom himself or the antagonist(s). But there is one really strange exception. You get to read as the elephant/rhino/beast (it’s been a while since I’ve last read this) as it stomps and destroys everything in it’s path. It’s completely awesome and completely unnecessary. But it was this wonderful change of pace in the book.

Are things like this safe to put in a book? Are the only useful in the skilled hands of an experienced writer? Are they necessary to keep people interested in the overall plot of a book?

You tell me…


5 Responses to “Busy Bee”

  1. ernestwhile Says:

    Douglas Adams was a master at introducing the random paragraph and I thought he was brilliantly funny. Perhaps in a more serious story it is harder to accomplish.

    As for the opening sentence, meh. I kept reading this post all the way through because of the voice and rhythm. Good luck with your novel!

  2. Alba Says:

    I like books that begins sort of in medias res. Not so much in hte middle of things that it just becomes confusing, but all the details about the characters and the worldbuilding can wait until I actually *care* about the world and the characters. Or I will just skim it, and then become super suprised when I re-read the book and notice all these nifty facts (because by then, I will (hopefully) care about the characters).

    Tolkien and Rowling both did bonus chapters, and did them well. (I have theories about the foxes, but those will have to wait until I’ve got some kind of literary degree.) I say write it – write lots of them! – and then decide. Otherwise you can just publish them as fanfiction once you’re famous.

    As for the first line – I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but just pretend you’ve already written the world’s most awesome first line, and start somewhere around the third line instead. That works for me. At least until I start editing and realise I could really do with a proper beginning, but why worry about those things?

  3. Frank Bishop Says:

    The trick is to pull off the unnecessary and make it work, make it flow and jive. In writing there are no hard rules it seems, just things that work and things that don’t – which is different for everybody.

    Having finished Perdido Street Station, the ending was a no-no in general terms, yet was executed and worked.

    Do it, see if it works, try and make it work, if it doesn’t work then move on. My 2.50 for what it is worth.

  4. geekgirlat40 Says:

    Love to hear that you are working on the novel. Congrats!

    Here’s my 2 cents: I think the opening sentence of what I’m reading tells me just about everything I need to know about whether I’ll enjoy it.

    http://thegeekiestgirl.com/2011/12/07/it-was-a-dark-and-stormy-night-first-sentence-as-guide/ (Shamesless self-promotion.)

    That said, I don’t try to start my own writing with that amazing first sentence right out of the gate. I create it later after I’ve gotten some of the writing out of my system. So. I don’t see an awesome first sentence as a gimmick.

    I also think that too much description can kill the movement of the story. I pretty much killed a post I was working on for 3 weeks by including too much description. (I’m letting that puppy sit and rest a bit before coming back to it.)

    Jasper Fforde’s book “Shades of Grey” is extremely compelling. I realized on a second read that the MAIN CHARACTERS aren’t physically described for many pages. And it doesn’t hurt the story at all. (In fact, my husband and I compared notes after the first chapter and realized we’d imagined the main characters looking almost the same – even without the author’s input. Weird.)

    Now, as for all those other questions you were asking at the end – this is YOUR book so I say do what you like. :)

    Note – all the above was written by someone who has not even attempted the thought of the possibility of even considering the idea of writing a novel. So, you know, take it all with a grain of salt.

    Good luck.

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