Tuesdays with Story
September 8, 2016
The first word . . .
“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.” – Stephen King (1947- ), novelist/short story writer
Millie Mader, published author!
Said Millie in a recent note, “Just letting you all know that my novel is now available on Nook and Kindle!!!! Without Pat’s help it could never have been published. I did credit Tuesdays, and I thank all of you for the years of helpful critiques – especially Jerry.”
Here are the links so you can download Millie’s ebook, Baby Blue:
– Kindle . . . Baby Blue on Kindle
– Nook . . . Baby Blue on the Nook
Now do one more thing. Go to Millie’s book pages on Amazon and B&N and post a review of Baby Blue.
Who’s up next . . .
September 20: Millie Mader (poem), Hannah Marshall (poems), Nora O’Reilly (chapter, Bill McCormick’s Bliss), Judith McNeil (???), Amit Trivedi (chapter, novel), Bob Kralapp (poem, “Sunday Morning), and Cindi Dyke (chapter, North Road).
October 4: Pat Edwards (???), Amber Boudreau (chapter 9, The Dragoneer), John Schneller (chapter 5, Final Stronghold), Eva Mays (chapter, Dhuoda), Bob Kralapp (???), and Mike Austin (chapter 15, Before I Leave).
Tuesday eve at the B&N . . .
Nine first-and-thirders circled up to critique three poems, three chapters, and a short story. Here are the results:
– Pat Edwards (poem) . . .” Overall the feedback was good, as most liked the poems, and they triggered some good discussions on the imagery. The group agreed with Pat on where the poems were lacking and had some good ideas for how to move them out of the ‘done but not happy’ folder.”
– Amber Boudreau (chapters 7-8, The Dragoneer) . . .” Amber read from Chapter 8 of the two chapters she submitted. Pat proclaimed it, “cool” and Amber was ready to go home. But then Pat mentioned she had a problem with how easy it was to remove the head of a creature at the end of the chapter and Amber decided to stick around. John wondered if this was a good way to introduce the mentor character of Mr.
Bertram, with no previous mention of him before. Pat and Jerry seemed to think it was fine especially after having read the previous version, they think this is much better. Amber thinks since it’s only chapter 8 it should be okay to throw in new characters with no previous mention.”
– John Schneller (chapter 4, Final Stronghold) . . . “Final Stronghold got on the move with chapter 4. Jerry thought the history of the 2 main characters came across smoothly within the story dialogue. There were good suggestions about the wierd use of wierd and barbs within the story. Mike made a good point about mouthing words.”
– Mike Austin (chapter 14, Before I Leave) . . .” The critiques of Mike’s work, “Before I Leave,” all seemed to follow the same conclusion that, while the mood and setting are very well written (Thank you), there is not enough happening, and the narrator is too directionless, and there needs to be some indications that he wants something. This has led me to realize that I should do a chapter-by-chapter synopsis before I present the next chapter. I’ll get to work on that!”
– Jerry Peterson (short story, part 1, “Luther Click & The Lawman”) . . . There was general agreement that Luther Click is a character readers like – gentle, genuinely caring for others. “I’d like to read more about him,” Pat Edwards said. And the food scenes . . . “Oh, my, Kashmira writes great food scenes, but these [lunch, supper and breakfast] were wonderful,” she said. Pat did want to know how Quill Rose could tell that the mash for making whiskey was about ready. “That would be a nice detail to add.”
Fifth Tuesday . . .
Eight writers and their four guests gathered last Tuesday evening at Nora O’Reilly’s home in Mt. Horeb for a cookout and potluck supper. Among the writers, five shared Fifth Tuesday challenge stories: A superhero makes a career change. You can read those stories. They’re posted on our TWS website and our Yahoo group site.
Next Fifth Tuesday? November 29. Put it on your calendar.
The editor . . .
This month it’s Eva Mays. Send her all the good things you’d like to share with your fellow writers.
Great first lines
Joe Fassler, a top horror fiction writer, interviewed Stephen King in 2013. He asked King to talk about the importance, the magnitude of a novel’s first sentence.
Said King, “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”
The first sentence sets the stage – however long or short the text – and hints at the narrative vehicle by which the writer will propel the book forward.
Said King, “Context is important, and so is style. But for me, a good opening sentence really begins with voice. You hear people talk about ‘voice’ a lot, when I think they really just mean ‘style.’ Voice is more than that.
“People come to books looking for something. But they don’t come for the story, or even for the characters. They certainly don’t come for the genre. I think readers come for the voice… An appealing voice achieves an intimate connection – a bond much stronger than the kind forged, intellectually, through crafted writing.”
Wrote Gawker columnist Jason Parham in a followup to that interview, “There are thousands of classic opening lines in fiction – A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison come to mind – but often the most well-known are not always the best. First sentences, of course, have different functions – to amuse, to frighten, to mystify – and the mechanics a writer uses to achieve this connection vary from genre to genre. In looking for the best opening lines, I took all of this into consideration. What follows are the 50 best. These are the sentences that say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”
“The time has come.” – Dr. Seuss, Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!
“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” – Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
“They shoot the white girl first.” – Toni Morrison, Paradise
“Dear Anyone Who Finds This, Do not blame the drugs.” – Lynda Barry, Cruddy
“An abandoned auto cout in the San Berdoo foothills; Buzz Meeks checked in with ninety-four thousand dollars, eighteen pounds of high-grade heroin, a 10-gauge pump, a .38 special, a .45 automatic, and a switchblade he’d bought off a pachuco at the border – right before he spotted the car parked across the line: Mickey Cohen goons in an LAPD unmarked, Tijuana cops standing by to bootsack his goodies, dump his body in the San Ysidro River.” – James Ellroy, L.A. Confidential
“It was raining in Richmond on Friday, June 6.” – Patricia Cornwell, Postmortem
“The man who had had the room before, after having slept the sleep of the just for hours on end, oblivious to the worries and unrest of the recent early morning, awoke when the day was well advanced and the sounds of the city completely invaded the air of the half-opened room.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Dialogue with the Mirror
“Pale freckled eggs.” – Nadine Gordimer, The Conservationist
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
“Back in the days when everyone was old and stupid or young and foolish and me and Sugar was the only ones just right, this lady moved on our block with nappy hair and proper speech and no makeup.” – Toni Cade Bambara, The Lesson
“Don’t look for dignity in public bathrooms.” – Victor LaValle, Big Machine
“I can feel the heat closing in, feel them out there making their moves, setting up their devil doll stool pigeons, crooning over my spoon and dropper I throw away at Washington Square Station.” – William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch
“The magician’s underwear has just been found in a cardboard suitcase floating in a stagnant pond on the outskirts of Miami.” – Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction
“You better not never tell nobody but God.” – Alice Walker, The Color Purple
“I’ve been cordially invited to join the visceral realists.” – Roberto Bolano, The Savage Detectives
“Chris Kraus, a 39-year-old experimental filmmaker and Sylvère Lotringer, a 56-year-old college professor from New York, have dinner with Dick _____, a friendly acquaintance of Sylvère’s, at a sushi bar in Pasadena.” – Chris Kraus, I Love Dick
“See the child.” – Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.” – Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
“Kublai Khan does not necessarily believe everything Marco Polo says when he describes the cities visited on his expeditions, but the emperor of the Tartars does continue listening to the young Venetian with greater attention and curiosity than he shows any other messenger or explorer of his.” – Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
“I’m pretty much fucked.” – Andy Weir, The Martian
WHY YOU SHOULD AIM FOR 100 REJECTIONS A YEAR
Last year, I got rejected 43 times by literary magazines, residencies, and fellowships—my best record since I started shooting for getting 100 rejections per year. It’s harder than it sounds, but also more gratifying.
In late 2011, a writer friend was sharing her experiences of having months of uninterrupted writing time at her residencies at the Millay Colony, Ragdale, and Yaddo. I was staggered by her impressive rates of acceptance. You probably have one of those friends, too—you know the one I’m talking about, that friend who is a beautiful writer, but who also seems to win everything? I could barely believe that she had the balls to apply to—let alone, get accepted to—several residencies, a prestigious fellowship, and publications in journals I had actually heard of.
I asked her what her secret was, and she said something that would change my professional life as a writer: “Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.” Read the full post at http://lithub.com/why-you-should-aim-for-100-rejections-a-year/