So, somehow, impossibly, it's already the middle of July!
Clearly the summer gods I pleaded to weeks ago for summer to go slow are not in a generous mood.
If it's not bad enough that summer is FLYING, I know some of you are struggling with the fact that you *think* you're not getting enough done with Teachers Write, or feeling like you haven't written as much as you wanted to.
I'm going to tell you the same thing I tell my son who has taken up the incredibly frustrating sport of golf: Play each hole like it's your first. Don't worry about what happened the hole before.
Same with Teachers Write. Haven't accomplished as much as you hoped? No worries.
Today is the first day of the rest of your writing life.
Go on. Dive in! Recommit! Re-energize.
Begin to begin.
Here, a little mood music to get you in, well, the mood.
Yay! That's better, right?
And, on that note, it's time for Friday Feedback! If you've never participated in Friday Feedback before PLEASE STOP HERE AND READ THE RULES!
Thanks. So. Keeping with the theme of new beginnings, my fabulous guest author, Lisa Martin, is going to talk about . . . beginnings. Those of you who posted your beginnings before now have another chance. Have you monkeyed with it since then? Made revisions? Now you can see how they went. Were you sad you missed the chance before? Voila! Chance is here again.
I'll let Lisa tell you more about her and lead you through Friday Feedback.
|Yep, Lisa Martin|
Hi everyone, and thanks so much Gae for having me!
I wrote Anton and Cecil: Cats at Sea with my aunt, Valerie Martin, who is an award-winning author of adult fiction,
and in the process I learned a ton from her.
(Psst, you guys, this is Gae, and this is her terrific new middle grade book, Anton and Cecil:
In the tradition of Stuart Little and Wind in the Willows:
The swashbuckling adventures of two very different cat brothers who must brave the perils of the bounding main in search of each other—and a way home.
Everybody expects the big things like controlling plot and pacing to be challenging, but most surprising to me were the tricky details of writing, like dialogue (hard!) and humor (so hard!), and, as has been discussed on this forum, openings.
Great openings are magical—they draw the reader in and make her feel like she’s in good hands with a confident writer. Openings that are too slow or boring or (worse) confusing, are a complete letdown.
Here’s one I like:
“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.” -- Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls
The narrator acknowledges the monster arrival cliché in a confidential, yet still spooky way. Very concise. Here’s another:
“It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure.” -- Lauren Oliver, Delirium
Precise details, a futuristic setting and unique problem presented, and you’re intrigued, right? One more, a long, rich sentence from the opening of one of Valerie’s novels.
“Dark hair and lots of it, heavy brows, sharp features, dark eyes, dark circles under the eyes, dark looks about the room, at the maître d’, the waitress, the trolley laden with rich, tempting desserts, and finally, as Toby guides her to the table, at Chloe, who holds out her hand and says pleasantly, though she is experiencing the first tentative pricks of the panic that will consume her nights and disrupt her days for some time to come, “Salome, how good to meet you.” -- Valerie Martin, Trespass
I mean, wow. Not saying it all has to be packed into one jewel-like sentence, but that elusive “hook” that agents and editors seek has to show up pretty early on.
So here are the first couple of paragraphs of a new novel I’ve been working on. Tell me if the intrigue factor is there, or if I need to be clearer, quicker, or more amped.
Thinking back on it later, Pierce realized that he must have been cursed just before the mile run.
One minute, he was walking across the soccer field behind the school with the rest of the 6th grade, joking with Finn, who was asking how somebody as short and scrawny as Pierce could run so fast. Caroline stole Finn’s baseball cap and dashed ahead. The thick morning fog felt like walking through a cloud and they spun around and swiped at it.
And the next minute Pierce was doubled over, down on one knee, his heart stuttering, a chill sweeping over him. His insides felt as if they were escaping, like the air being let out of a balloon, the space beneath his ribs left hollow and silent as a cave. Pierce waited, crouched and shaking, and the feeling faded like a slow breath drawn out of him.
Caroline ran back to him through the fog. She put her hands on his shoulders. Are you okay? Finn helped him stand. Are you hurt? For a few seconds their voices seemed warped, their faces misshapen and pale. Then the air and the sound cleared, and everyone stared at him. Pierce took a breath and shook his head. No. I’m not hurt. The soccer field stretched out under his feet, the damp breeze slipped over his skin, and standing down the hill near the woods was Mr. Marshall, the P. E. Teacher, waving them over to start the race. And so they shrugged and kept walking.
What happened later made it seem more like a gift than a curse, at least for a while.
Some things are like that.
Thanks for any feedback, and looking forward to reading your excerpts! Tremendous gratitude toward all you teachers (and librarians!) who do the most important work of all.
My best, Lisa