Showing posts from December, 2011

Why Are First Chapters The Hardest To Write?

I know my characters inside out, have researched the eras in which they live until I can smell the charcoal burning in the woods and feel the oft-washed linen shifts on my skin. I'm a plotter, so every chapter and scene is planned out in detail, whose PoV it is in and what the aims, conflicts and goals are.

So why, when I sit down to write the opening chapter - it is either too detailed, too slow, too full of irrelevant information, too complicated, too political, not enough introspection, too much introspection, too much background, not enough atmosphere - etc etc?

There isn't a formula on how to hook a reader within the first three pages -  every novel I have ever read is different - you are either thrown into the action from the first paragraph until you are breathless by page four, or the writer pulls you in slowly and surely by the mystery of why they are walking along an iced-up road at midnight with only a banknote and a page from a telephone directory in their pocket.

Christmas Isn't Christmassy

Is it me, or doesn't Christmas feel like Christmas any more?

In my childhood, which was long ago than I care to detail here, this time of year was always magical. It began with the School Nativity Play, when pre-teens down to toddlers of four took part in various productions of the Bethlehem Story with tea-towels wrapped round our heads and our best doll playing the infant Jesus. Mums and Dads would crowd into the school hall and perch on those tiny chairs, snapping away at their babies, and Dad would stand at the back and take a movie of the entire production.

That was long ago, before the word 'paedophile' was bandied about like a new flu virus that anyone could catch and we all need protecting from. Now proud Mums and Dads aren't even allowed to take their mobile phones into the play in case they take illicit photographs of their own children, and Dads are frisked at the door by the movie camera mafia to make sure he hasn't smuggled one in. One school headmis…

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