So you’re a total star because you’ve written your first sentence. Maybe you’ve written your introduction, first chapter or entire first (crap) draft. Well done, sweet storyteller! Well done.
But you’re still not happy, are you? You’re screaming on the inside and squinting at your creation. It’s a monster not a masterpiece! Get the matches, stack the wood, open the fire pit, get out the bottle of…
When Stephen King tells writers to “kill our darlings” he’s daring us to ditch everything that isn’t working, no matter how pretty or how hard. Why? Because there’s something sharper, shinier and sweeter underneath. Learn to snip-snip, wordsmith.
Sniff around what has you trapped and unable to move forward.
The usual suspect? Your beginning. If your first sentence goes nowhere (i.e., you don’t know what comes next, you’re dead-boring already), you’ve likely opened with an abstract concept. For example, “Meditation is a powerful tool for self-discovery.” Snore! And yes, left-brain lovers: I don’t care if that’s your “message;” that sentence is b-o-r-i-n-g.
Start your story somewhere real. Begin with a real person. A real emotion. A real image or memory. Start real and stay real.
(And yes, repetition works… really.)
Imagine if you were to hear someone open with “I met God while doing the downward dog.”
Want to know what happens next? Yup.
“Meditation is a powerful tool for self-discovery” is a giant snore because there’s nowhere to go except into a data-dump. You know it and your audience knows it.
When your opening line works, you can’t wait to tell us what happens next. You’re actually excited to write down the words and recall those memories and emotions… no memorization required, by the way.
Once you have your kick-butt, non-boring opener, show us what happens next. How you felt, what you learned, how you’ve changed. And the finale? Show your audience how your story can help them. Show them how your story is their story too.
Wow, look at that. You’re writing your snip-snipped, non-crap second draft. You’re actually having fun as you move forward. There’s Light at the end of your real-life story. And now that you’re done and delivered, more real-life Light and Love have beamed out into the world.
Keep it real, sweet storyteller.