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Beginning: Editor's Notes #250
December 31, 2017
Hello,

Begin as you mean to go on.
—Charles Haddon Spurgeon


In this issue:

1. Beginnings
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt
5. Changes to the schedule of Editor’s Notes

1. Beginnings
Does the warning from most writing coaches, editors, agents, and publishers that the opening of your book is vital to its ultimate success send a chill down your spine and bring on serious writer’s block? First I’m going to stand behind my colleagues’ warnings. Then I’m going to tell you why you don’t have to freeze in fear.

An opening can be a sentence or as much as two pages. The beginning matters because it’s your reader’s introduction to you and your ideas. It needs to instil confidence in you as a writer and create curiosity so your reader is compelled to continue reading.

There is no strict formula for beginnings, but there are some ideas that work well. In nonfiction, you might begin with something unusual, counter-intuitive, a question, or a contrasting set of ideas. In fiction, the opening usually introduces the setting, the main character, the tone, and tension of some sort.

The previous paragraph offers admittedly broad-stroke ideas. It is still up to you to do arrange words in a way that make the opening compelling. So you may still be frozen solid in your chair, convinced you can’t write at all because your beginning is not all it needs to be.

Here comes the relief. If your current opening is underwhelming, let it be and carry on writing. Many, maybe even most, successful writers write the final version of their opening at the end of the writing process. And after you’ve done all you can on your own, an editor can help you find your opening. Openings often lurk somewhere else in the book and only need to be moved to their rightful place at the start of the book. In any case, after you’ve written a whole book or article, your confidence in your ability to write could carry you through the admittedly tough work of perfecting the opening.

In the mean time, start your own collection of openings that appeal to you. Make notes on what you think it is that pulls you in. Practice cloning these good openings for your own purposes. As you focus on this vital part of writing, watch your own ability to create good openings improve.

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2.Tickled my funnybone
Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

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3. Interesting Web site
If you have the stamina, read these 100 first lines of novels collected as the best. My favourite is number 2.
http://americanbookreview.org/100BestLines.asp

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4. Writing prompt
Reread the opening of the book you are currently reading or read last. Use it as a model to write an opening of your own for something you are already working on or a book you might write one day. (Note: Your opening does not have to be perfect, only intriguing in some way.)

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5. Changes to the schedule of Editor’s Notes
Thank you to everyone who took the time to help me decide the upcoming schedule for Editor’s Notes. Unless there is a landslide of opinion that changes everything in the next twelve hours, your next issue should arrive Wednesday, January 10 and continue every two weeks after that. Those who asked for a change were unanimous about the day, which made the decision easy.

Fifty percent asked for Wednesday, 33% said the date did not matter, and 17 percent wanted to continue with the 15th and the end of the month.

I hope you will all find the extra two issues each year worthwhile.
P.S. I always welcome questions and ideas from readers.

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