“All you have to do is write one true sentence.
Write the truest sentence that you know.”
~ Ernest Hemingway
I started writing my latest book somewhere in the middle. That’s not a bad thing, really. All the good writers and editors tell you to begin your story as far in as you can, feeding your readers bits and pieces of the story’s origin as you go along.
But the problem was, I was really – I mean really – in the middle of the freaking book. The opening made no sense because it wasn’t really an opening. It didn’t grab. It didn’t hook you and pull you in.
I think I’ve psyched myself out a bit about beginnings because I have a bad habit of writing slow openings and then building to a crescendo, instead of opening with the flourish and backing off to a better build. It actually stymied me for a while since I was determined not to do this with this book – to the point where I finally decided to start writing in the middle and figure out the opening later.
And later is now. I’ve put it off too long and it needs to get done. So yesterday, I sat down and just did it. At first I stared blankly at the monitor screen, blinking like a fish in a bowl as the slight sound of leaking air streamed from my ears, and then I remembered that Hemingway quote above.
What did I know that was true about this character? This story?
I wrote that truth down, and followed it with another, and another, and then I got in a groove and now I have an opening chapter. It’s not great yet, but it’s pretty good.
And I owe it all to Hemingway.