Thoughts on writing and marketing
I love odd starts in novels. Ones that, for instance
Trip you up and make you ask yourself what the writer meant by that
Encapsulate the general theme of the novel by looking at a specific or allegorical item
Plant you in the story immediately
I read a lot of openings that are competent, and a few that make me settle back, happy in the knowledge that in the next few hours my mind is going to be driven on some wild path by a master of the craft.
Pulling books at random from the shelves, here’s a couple of good opening sentences:
“My name is Gin, and I kill people.”
Cazaril heard the mounted horsemen on the road before he saw them.
And there are many more. I’d love to hear some of your favorite opening paragraphs or lines…
While you’re off scrambling to submit openings that you love, here’s something different. Reading my Sunday papers today, I came across this opening sentence:
In handbooks on Chinese traditional painting, an advice commonly given to the artist who wishes to learn to paint trees is to sketch them in winter, for then, without the seductive yet confusing and blurring effect of their leafy mass, through their stark nudity they can best reveal their inner structure and specific character.
So wrong? Long! Complex! Passive voice!
Okay, let me give you the context. It’s not a novel, it’s an analysis of Chinese history and culture, and this is a summary of the book – that the great outward show too often hides the inner truth.
(By the way, I have not read the book, I’m just taken by that opening)
But this art of capturing the essence of a story in a sentence leads me to movie taglines and loglines. (Not that I’ve been approached by Hollywood. Yet.)
Loglines are short descriptions that summarize a film; protagonist, task, antagonist, stakes. These are fun to think up for famous movies.
Frodo, a plucky and resourceful hobbit, must creep into the lands of the lord of darkness, Sauron, to destroy a powerful, magical ring before the armies of evil sweep out and plunge the world of Middle Earth into everlasting night.
This is the movie equivalent of the novel’s “elevator pitch” – a summary of the novel that takes thirty seconds or less.
A tagline (sometimes strapline) is something quite different. They’re the descriptions that end up on the posters advertising the movie. And for LotR, there’s only one possible:
One ring to rule them all.
So what would the logline and tagline be for SoH? 🙂