Monday, December 31, 2012

Leti Del Mar's Guest Post

Leti Del Mar
Today I am pleased to publish a guest post by Leti Del Mar, the author of The Inadvertent Thief.

Leti is a wonderful writer, and in this blog, she offers several tips to help you sharpen and refine your own writing. 


When she is not writing, she teaches Biology and Algebra to teenagers. When she's not teaching, she's reading, or pursuing her love of Art History, buried deep inside of a museum or traveling with her husband and daughter. To get a taste of Leti's delightful writing, you may download The Inadvertent Thief for free for the next several days from the following websites:





Here is Leti's guest blog:

“Call me Ishmael.”  Moby Dick

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Anna Karenina


“It was a pleasure to burn.”  Fahrenheit 451


“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice


What do the above quotes all have in common?  They are famous opening lines from equally famous works of literature.  They grab you, they interest you, they intrigue you and more importantly, they compel you to read more. A fantastic opening line is a key element to any memorable work of fiction.  Unfortunately, they are often the first thing you write and we all know just how intimidating that blank white page can be.  So let’s take a look at what makes an unforgettable opening line.



1.      Open with action.  A great way to start a story is by throwing the reader right into the middle of action.  You can compel the reader to keep reading.  For example, look at the opening line of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.  “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”  Right away, we know the name of our protagonist, we know he has a long history with his father and most importantly, we know he is going to face a firing squad.  As a reader, I want to know what happened to put him in this position and will keep reading to find out.

2.      Turn a truth on its ear.  Take something the reader is familiar with and twist it into something new.  Create a paradox or an ironic certainty that will make your reader want to find out how you can justify that statement.  In 1984, George Orwell does just that with his opener.  “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”  He juxtaposes the idea of April, which has a warm connotation, with cold.  Then he throws in the unlucky number 13 and makes us mentally stumble over a clock that tolls an impossible number.  As a reader, I’m confused and intrigued enough to keep reading.  

3.      Thoroughly immerse the reader in your setting.  Use your opener to put the reader into the world you’ve created.  Make them feel, see, hear and truly understand where they will be as they continue reading.  J. R. Tolkien is a master of this in The Hobbit.  “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”  With this opener we know exactly what kind of home a hobbit lives in and even get an idea of what is a common characteristic for a hobbit, which is important since a hobbit is a creation entirely of Tolkien’s imagination.

4.      Shock or confuse your reader.  Say something that will make the reader sit up and pay attention. Something so outrageous the reader will just have to keep reading.  Case in point, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis opens with this whopper.  “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”  What?  Is that right?  This guy wakes up and discovers he is a monstrous vermin!  That’s what I call shocking and I just had to keep reading to find out the why, how and what now of this story.    

Do you have to use all four of these tips all at once?  No way.  These are just a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.  Here’s an idea, take an opening line you’ve already written and rewrite it with one or two of these tips and see what happens.  You may just create something unforgettable.

Here is the Link to Leti's website

28 comments:

  1. Amazing quotes to make a point, brought me back to reading 1984 and The Hobbit. Great post!

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  2. The Inadvertent Thief looks like a great read, and I truelly enjoyed the guest post.

    I followed this blog through GFC. Could you follow me back at I Heart Reading?

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    A very interesting guest post! Loved the way Leti broke down the information first quotes give.

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