Monday, 3 October 2016

Technology ... Arrgggghhh

The first proper day I'm able to devote time to study and the OU website has crashed. I managed to respond to and post a couple of forum posts, but it was grinding then. I guess that everyone has had the same idea as me. Kids are back at school, spouse perhaps at work, busy weekend ended (in my case) so let's get down to it.

So I thought I'd share my beginnings here, with you good people. We've done two tasks so far. One was to choose a favourite beginning and the other was to write three different beginnings to a story, either using some novel openings we'd been reading or a favourite story or our own. I chose to write my own.

When it come to favourite openings I was torn between two. The first was:

Everybody has been at me, right and left, to write this story, from the great (represented by Lord Nasby) to the small (represented by our late maid-of-all-work, Emily, whom I saw when I was last in England. ‘Lor, miss, what a beyewtiful book you might make out of it all – just like the pictures!’)
And the second was:

This is a story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve. 
As I read them, I realised that, despite the different tone, they're actually similar. They both begin by stating that the narrator is in fact telling a story, and whilst on the second one it isn't clear, both are in the first person (although interestingly the narrator of the second one often refers to himself in the third person).

I shan't give away what they are, but if anyone has any thoughts or feelings on them, don't be afraid to share.

Then we had to write three opening sentences. I'll share mine here with the remit at the top of each. I don't say I've nailed it. I only offer them up as an example of the work I'm doing (excuse the formatting).

·        Making a startling or arresting statement of fact.
I didn’t intend for Beatrice Taylor to die. I suppose it’s fair to say I didn’t do much to save her either. I saw an opportunity and I took it, as I always have. 
·        Offering an invitation to the exotic or particular world of your story.
She pressed her face against the window of the saloon. Inside she could see the flickering lights and hear the musical meeting of fine crystal and the soft whisper of satin and lace. If the women were not quite as beautiful as they should be and the men not quite as handsome, she did not care. One day, she vowed, I’ll take my place among you.
·        Taking the reader in medias res – the action has already begun. This may mean beginning with dialogue, in the midst of a conversation.
“Do you really think I look like her?”

“Yeah. You’ve started doing your hair the same, haven’t you? Not sure it’ll work though. She’s a lady and you’re definitely not.”

 The nails diving into his bare flesh, and the foul language she used, proved him right. He didn’t mind. He liked her just as she was, ragged nails and all.

Maybe it's something you'd like to try yourself with a story, to see if you can find the very best opening. I already know which one I'm going to go for, but won't say so here.

1 comment:

Kath McGurl said...

Love your beginnings!

I recognise your second opening. Possibly Wilkie Collins but am not sure and am not going to cheat.

As for styles of opening, I am not keen on 'in media res' openings as you never know who's talking or where you are etc. I prefer the invitation to a world, or perhaps the dramatic statement, though those can be overused and possibly suit thrillers best.

One of my favourite ever openings of type 1 is (from memory so possibly not quite right) : My name is Susie Salmon, like the fish. I was thirteen years old when I was murdered. (Alice Sebold)