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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Addiction

Sitting at his desk typing away

nothing to think, nothing to say

his wife is worried – the dog is, too

he won’t go to sleep

it’s already two.

Morning fades to a blistering blue

not a hello or how are you.

He sits at his desk and types away

he doesn’t think, he doesn’t say.

 

Days decay and months bloom

all alone in an empty room

darkness sleeps with dust and gloom:

linens in a living tomb.

 

His love died a soundless sigh

too quick to say goodbye or why.

If he cried as he turned away

he doesn’t think, he doesn’t say.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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What Makes an Opening Sentence Memorable?

“Fifty years and I finally murdered my wife.” 

What? 

That’s what the first sentence of your prose should do. It doesn’t have to grab you by the collar and shake you around or slap you in the face, but it needs to make your reader stop and pay attention. Hey, are you listening?

Unfortunately, a lot of us aspiring writers look at this and seriously contemplate taking the trash out instead.

Image

Scary, isn’t it?

 

Today my girlfriend called me because her student wanted to know how to grab his reader’s attention. It’s simple, but it’s not. It’s one of those “well you should do this, but you don’t have to if it works, but then other people have done that…” kind of moments. I didn’t know what to tell him. 

That’s the thing about art. There are no rules, but there are guidelines to help you out.

An opening sentence should be dynamic, it should be active, and ideally, it should provide the first glimpse into your character or setting. Also, a good rule of thumb is to never start the sentence with a weak word, i.e. I, the, a, we, ect. The first word should be strong to make the rest of your sentence strong.

Thomas Pynchon wrote one of my favorite: “A screaming comes across the sky.”

Where did the scream come from? Who’s screaming? Why isn’t Lassie here to save the day? I’m kidding. Regardless, it poses questions that the reader wants to know, and the only way they’ll find out is by reading more. That’s why it’s good.

Notice it doesn’t have anything to do with the character or setting. The first is “A.” No rules, remember? 

The only thing matters is that it works. 

How about this?

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”

Poetic, no? This is what follows.

“She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.”

UGH! I love it!

Of course, it turns out that the narrator is talking about a fourteen year old girl in the novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, but it grabs you like a woman’s perfume grabs you as she passes. 

It makes you wonder. It makes you question. Who is Lolita and why is he so infatuated with her? Then it evolves. Why is he in love with a little girl? 

That’s what makes a first sentence good: it makes your reader want more.

 

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Screen Play! Act I Scene I

FOREST. DAY.

A dog limps through splintered sunlight falling from the trees as a wolf’s howl chases closely behind. He pauses on a rocky cliff side over looking a city at the forest’s edge. Bloody paw prints stain the stone as he walks off.

HOUSE – INT. DAY.

MARISOL (7) plays with a decapitated Barbie as he mother cooks dinner. A ghostly woman materializes behind her.

GHOST

Ma…ri…

Marisol turns, oddly at ease at the sight of the dead woman, and watches as she floats through the door. She steals a glance at her mother before quietly running after her.

HOUSE – EXT. DAY.

The ghost melts through the wrought iron gate and disappears down the street.

FOREST. DAY.

From the trees a low growl reverberates in the air. The dog collapses: pooling crimson fills the cracks of the sidewalk and leaks into the street.

HOUSE – INT. DAY.

Marisol’s mother wipes her forehead with a cloth hanging on the oven handle. All she hears is the sound of sizzling grease. She looks over, expecting to see her daughter lost in an imaginary world, but all she finds is a Barbie lying lifeless on the floor.

M. MOTHER

Mari? Marisol?

STREET. DAY.

Marisol runs up to the smiling apparition, but as she reaches her, the ghost fades into the air. Lying a few feet in front of her is the dying dog and it’s murderer starring at its new prey with sickly yellow eyes.

HOUSE – EXT. DAY.

A scream pierces the afternoon silence. Terror fills Marisol’s mother’s eyes and she frantically races through the gates.

STREET. DAY.

The wolf crouches, bearing his bloody fangs. He pounces, but before his teeth can clamp around Marisol’s fragile neck, an arm snatches her up into the air. He pounces again. Misses. Marisol’s mother picks up a rock. It flies inches above the wolf’s head and cracks against the concrete. He turns but another collides with its head. Shaken, the wolf takes a step back before retreating to the safety of the forest.

M. MOTHER

Don’t you ever leave the house without me! Do you want to kill me, scaring me like that?

MARISOL

But ma…

The dog whines softly.

MARISOL.

Can you fix him?

HOUSE – EXT. DAY.

Marisol’s mother crushes leaves and flower petals in a bowl as Marisol peers over her shoulder.

MARISOL

What are you doing?

M. MOTHER

This should help. Your grandma taught me how to make this.

She gently coats the wound with the ointment and wraps it with a bandage.

M. MOTHER (CONT.)

There. Now he needs to rest. What do you think you’re doing running off like that? You could’ve been killed!

MARISOL

Grandma told me to.

Her mother wraps her in her loving arms.

M. MOTHER

Mari, your grandma has been dead for years.

MARISOL

Si I know, but I saw her. Really.

M. MOTHER

Saw her while playing pretend?

MARISOL

No! I really did see her! I’m not crazy Ma.

M. MOTHER

Did I say you were crazy? I don’t think you’re crazy, just good at pretending.

Marisol pushes away from her.

MARISOL

Ma!

M. MOTHER

Okay. Okay. Next time you tell your grandma no, or else you’ll get spanked!

They get up and walk to the house.

MARISOL

So can we keep him? Please?

M. MOTHER

Ask your father.

MARISOL

You always say that.

M. MOTHER

So you should already know.

Marisol hangs her head in defeat.

MARISOL

So – not – fair.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Screenplay, Scribbles

 

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Quote

“The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and hiss tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.”

This is the place where I come to share my writing for no other reason than to share my writing. It’s a freedom to me just as it was to Mrs. Angelou and for many other people in the world. 

“The caged bird…

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in Uncategorized