Monday, January 31, 2011

First lines, oh my!

First off, announcements:

  1. The paperback of The Dead-Tossed Waves comes out a week from tomorrow (Feb 8th).  How did time pass at such warp speed!?  And yes, it has the first chapter of The Dark and Hollow Places in the back :)
  2. The very talented and super nice author Sarwat Chadda reviewed The Forest of Hands and Teeth and interviewed me about it on his blog as part of his Kiss Me, Kill Me blog series (a really awesome series!).  Here's the link!

Thank you all for indulging me in my quest to play around with QR codes.  Seems that it worked so I think I'll keep playing :)  For those of you who, like me until recently, didn't know what a QR code was or don't have the ability to scan one, here's the first line to The Dark and Hollow Places:

This city used to be something once.

I've posted before about first lines (here's a list of some of them from works that will never see the light of day).  Generally, I can't really get going on a project until I have that first line and usually, that line never changes.  The opening to The Forest of Hands and Teeth is still the same as it was when I emailed it to myself in November 2006 when I first came up with it.

Now, I'll admit that the first line to The Dead-Tossed Waves changed several times as I kept changing who the protagonist was and where/when it was set but the line that made it into the book is still the same line that started out that particular draft (and in the interesting tidbit category, I also came up with that first line while on the road and emailed it to myself -- seems to be a trend.)

Of course, all that being said... the first line of The Dark and Hollow Places changed.  For a very long time it used to be, "It was only a matter of time before the Dark City fell."  And oh, when I look back on the proposal that included that first line I just have to laugh because WOW did this book ever change from inception to final product!

For proof of that, let's look at the "outline" I created using post-it notes and my hallway (let's not discuss how long it's actually been there...).  Even now I sometimes pause and read one of those little notes and laugh and laugh and laugh because almost none of those plot points ended up in the book.

Yes, I wish I had a different process that didn't include hallways of notes that never see the light of day and yet at the same time, I've started to embrace the process I do have.  Because by putting all those notes together I understood more about the structure of the book and the characters and their roles individually and together.

Also, I got to spend a beautiful spring day outside just brainstorming various scene ideas and that's always fun :)

Anyway, it's interesting to think back on the process of how The Dark and Hollow Places got from point A (time to ponder the third book!) to point Z (on shelves March 22, 2011!).  Especially as I embark on new projects (lips sealed) and get excited about where those might be in the future.  For me, there's always something a little magical about the process -- a part of me that will likely never understand how it works and thus is terrified that one day it won't.  But there's fun in the magic -- in that moment when you realize you've written the foundation for a point you hadn't even considered but once you realize it... wow, it works (or rather, that's the hope!).


Shveta Thakrar said...

Hey, first line!

Some of us got to have you read it to us. . .la, la, la, la, la!

*happy memories*

Can't wait until the book version arrives in my mailbox!

Amanda said...

This post just makes me more anxious for my pre-ordered copy of TD&HP to arrive! March 22nd can't come soon enough!

Also - I love your post-its. That's the same system I use to keep track of homework, so it makes perfect sense! :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

man id love to hear the process b/c it all ties in so well - seems you planned it from the beginning!

Bea said...

I love your process and post-it notes and the first line!!!

I cannot wait for this book!! And 1month before my birthday!!! What birthday can possibly live up to your book?!

Anyways, love your books/short stories/blogs/tweets!!