My cat takes her place at her new spot on the sofa- that is part of the small and informal dining table in our family room– stretches and closes her eyes. Always around me while I’m at my writing desk. My half printed manuscript lays face up right next to my computer. It is as if the words were haunting me, calling me out, telling me they need more. More, more, more… I stare at it and just whisper “I know”, but turn my sight towards the pile of clean laundry that needs to be folded and put away. A sigh escapes my chest.
Would I find it there? I ask. I have been ignoring my manuscript for three days now. If it had the gift of life and could speak, my first chapter could describe in crude detail the whole structure and decor of my home for it had been all over it. Or just maybe, cry out loud the torture it has endure under my pencil. Words have been written and erased, written again and again erased. A tortured piece of white paper wanting to move on. I struggle to find the perfect opening line for my story for the one I wrote is not working. Is just weak.
Openings are as difficult as a teenager, stubborn and with an attitude problem. Every writer struggles with its opening line, I say to myself. But what is the Perfect opening line for this fantasy story? Inspiration, I need inspiration from those that I admire and have gone through this.
So there I went and read and read and read all the opening lines of the books I love and look down on me waiting patently for their turn on the shelf. Inspiring, curious, perfect each and one of them. From lands of dragons of Christopher Paolini, romance by Jane Austin, the spiral hell of Dante, the journey of Eneas, a city of beasts of Isabel Allende, Kafka, Rosario Ferré, Homer, Dumas, Coelho, Tolkien, Dostoievski, García Marquez, Seneca…
Some went something like this: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)”; “Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood.- Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno”; “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect- Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis”; “The Alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought. Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus -Paulo Coelho”… All of them perfect and intriguing. Mine must be the same, mine has to be an equal.
I lay on the cold hard floor and stare in awe at these pages and these lines. Minutes come and go, instrumental music fills the air and I keep staring. A word comes “Final” (end). I must start giving away her fear, her undesired end. Her fear is the key. And so it is that the fear of her end of one of my protagonists must be the opening line of this story. A beginning of sorts.
What about yours?
- You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover, But You Can by Its Opening Line (clblacke.wordpress.com)
- Lesson Six from the Gold Mine Manuscript Red Line: Watch that Voice! (jennifermeaton.wordpress.com)