Motivation for Prodding your Muse # 8

 Taken from The Writer’s Devotional
By Amy Peters
Sterling Publishing, 2012

Make everybody fall out of the plane first, and then explain who they were and why they were in the plane to begin with. 

Nancy Ann Dibble


Nancy Ann Dibble wrote ELEMENTS Of FICTION Writing Plot under the pseudonym Ansen Dibell. In it, she outlines the ways in which a writer can create a strong and compelling plotline.

One way to do this is to remember as you write that you don’t have a large window of time to grab your reader’s attention. Many book buyers choose a book based on the strength of the first page, so it’s important to create a strong and compelling opening to your work.

Consider some of the famous first lines in literary history:

  • “124 was spiteful.” — Toni Morrison, Beloved
  • “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” — Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  • “For a long time, I went to bed early.”  — Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way
  •  “In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.” — Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Imagine you are that customer in the bookstore who makes a decision based solely on the power of the first line. As the poet T.S. Eliot so aptly put it, “If you start with a bang, you won’t end up with a whimper.”


Submitted by Barbara Cairns (SSRA Member)

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