A FRESH START
Let’s talk about creative writing competitions. How can you give yourself the best chance of being up there with the top entries?
CLUE NUMBER ONE: Deliver an opening line that compels the judge to think, ‘Ah, this is more like it.’
I picked up the following tip from a lesson on the Mslexia website. It said there are three elements we can try to work into our openings — voice, character and conflict. The example given was this:
My mother never….
It’s good, isn’t it, because
there’s a voice that might be about to tell us something very interesting;
we can relate to a mother-figure (whether good or bad, we don’t know yet);
the word ‘never’ implies some conflict to come.
Earlier this year I won my place at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School with a 1000 word story. This is how it began:
That’s how people start letters, isn’t it? My trouble was – I couldn’t bear to put the words ‘Dear’ and ‘Marcus’ side by side.
Voice, character, and conflict. What do you think? Did my opening have all three?
THINGS WE CAN DO TO IMPROVE OUR OPENINGS
Read some winning short stories, and judge for yourself. Which have openings that grab you? Why do they grab you?
Google first lines on the internet. Do they all make you want to read on?
Write your story without worrying too much about the start. Then go back to the beginning, and work to create a much better opening line.
Remember it’s sometimes a case of the simpler, the more striking.
Try out a story with the opening line suggested by Mslexia. My mother never….
I’d love to hear how you get on.
A fresh start, yippee.
Now I think I’m stuck!