Oooh, get me! For once I’m not leaving my Start That Novel write up till Sunday night. Mind you, before I get too cocky, I haven’t done my homework for this week yet…
So, we met on Monday evening to learn more about opening paragraphs and first chapters. We took it in turns to read from the beginning of several novels: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, The Bell Jar by Syliva Plath, Before I go to Sleep by S.J Watson, One Day by David Nicholls and Life Class by Pat Barker.
We thought about whether the opening paragraphs involved tension, whether they set the mood of the novel and whether they had a hook. We concluded that whilst it isn’t strictly necessary to include all these things at the beginning of a novel, it definitely helps. Incidentally, we felt that the opening paragraph of One Day was a little weak and not particularly engaging, and those of us who had actually read the whole thing had to convince everyone else that it turns into a very, very good read!
We then had a go at writing our own opening paragraphs and shared them afterwards. Reading your own work out loud is an acquired taste… it gets easier to digest with practice! But I have to say that our group are all really helpful and supportive of each other’s work. Plus, it’s really interesting to hear all the wonderful, imaginative and moving ideas as they fly around the room.
Next, Rosie set us an exercise which allowed us to get to know our main characters and really think about how they contribute to our novel. In pairs, we asked ourselves, ‘what makes people want to read about our characters?’ and thought about why we, as writers, feel the need to write about them. We also thought about character’s secret wishes and whether anyone or anything might try and prevent them from fulfilling them.
I came to the conclusion that my character is something of a ‘female Peter Pan’ as she’s a twelve year old child, who’s very resistant to growing up… Anyone who knows me personally, or has followed my blog for a while, will know that I’m very much a big kid myself, as this photo shows:
It would seem, it’s a good thing, I want to write for children!
Oh, and in other news, I’ve booked my place at the fabulous Writers’ Holiday in Caerleon, which takes place this July. I’m so excited to be going again! This year, there’s a Writing for Children course, run by successful writer, Anita Loughrey – needless to say, I’ve booked myself on that! This is the last time they’re holding it at Caerleon and, having only recently discovered it, I feel quite sad. It’s moving to a hotel in Fishguard next year though, which, I’m told is also a wonderful venue. Let me know if you’re going too 🙂