The birth of a future blogger

This is the second post in the Book of Me, Written by You.  This week’s prompt is:

Your birth

Do you have any baby photos?
Where were you born?
Who was present at your birth?
Dimensions?
What day was it? Time?
Did you have hair? Eye colour
Are you a twin?

 

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I didn’t have any photos of me as a baby, so I emailed Mum to ask if she could send me one, and this is what she sent back, along with the comment: “This is the first photo of you taken when we had just arrived home from the hospital.  So you were 10 days old.  There was no such thing as taking cameras into hospital in those days.” 

My due date was on the fourth of the month.  Incidentally that was exactly nine months after my parents’ first wedding anniversary.  Draw your own conclusions, I certainly have.  Both of my parents and my paternal grandmother also had birthdays on the fourth of the month (not the same month), and had I turned up when expected, that would have made four “fourths”.  Four fours are sixteen, and my paternal grandfather’s birthday was the sixteenth of the month.  So my parents seemed to have planned it all well.

In what was surely the first in a long line of disappointments, I was six days late, eventually being born on the 10th, which was a Sunday, at 5.45pm.  More than 45 years later, my Mum has still not forgiven me for putting her off her Sunday lunch that day.

I was born in Bristol Maternity Hospital, in a building which isn’t there any more. On the subject of who was present at the time, Mum said: “There were several members of the nursing staff at your birth, but due to me having quite a bit of pethidine, I only remember staff nurse Skeet. She was the most important though as she was the one who delivered you.”

When Mum was sufficiently recovered to receive visitors, Dad got to see me for the first time.  His first comments were that they had better think of setting up some kind of savings plan for me, and to remember that whatever they did for me, they would also have to do for the next one.  This was the kind of talk which could easily have prompted Mum to strangle him, had she been able to find the strength.

I wasn’t a twin, and seem to have quite dark hair and eyes, if the picture above is anything to go by, and I think I was just under 8lbs and a pretty normal size for a baby.  It was only later in life I became a short freak.

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A Liebster Award and shameless rule-breaking

The Baroness at Pucker up Buttercup nominated me for a Liebster award this week, for which I am eternally grateful and slightly perturbed. It’s lovely to know that other bloggers are thinking about you and would like to hear your answers to their questions. It’s the passing it on bit that bothers me. Is it a bit annoying and chain-mail-ish? I’m not sure. So I am going to break the rules answer the questions I’ve been asked, but I won’t be nominating anyone else.

If you take the time to read, like or comment on my blog then please be assured that I think you deserve an award, full stop.

Here are the questions, and my answers, some or all of which might be the truth:

What’s the most important quality you look for in a friend?

- A large bookshelf and a generous nature

What would your superhero name be?

- I can’t imagine being a superhero, but I would like to teach the world to sing, so maybe I could be the music lady

Have you ever broken someone’s heart? If so, whose?

- I think so, but I’m not telling

Is the pursuit or the capture better? Why?

- Capture. I’m too old for pursuing.

What do you most wish you could do over?

- University. Choice of subject particularly. But then if I had I might not be where I am now, which is good place to be, so perhaps I shouldn’t mess.

Is it ever okay to put raisins in cookies? Why or why not?

- Only on Tuesdays. Something to do with pancakes. I forget the rule.

What’s the last compliment you were given?

- Someone told me I was quite inoffensive. Later I broke his heart.

How important is the first kiss?

- Very, if it’s bad. Not so much if it’s average. Are they ever good?

What’s the best name for a turtle, and why?

- Tallahassee. Actually that wasn’t what I wanted to say but my autocorrect changed it and it’s better than my answer. So I’ll stick with it.

What do you wish people knew about you?

- If I’m not talking to you it’s because I can’t do small talk, not because I don’t like you. Probably.

 

And now one for you: Which is your favourite question and how would you answer it?

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Picture of Tallahassee the Turtle courtesey of freedigitalphotos.net

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Who am I?

Last month I tentatively started blogging after a six-month absence. I promised myself that if I was going to do this, I had to do it properly, and update my blog at least once a week. I kept that promise for all of two weeks. When week three arrived, my inspiration and creative juices left.

Yesterday I read about an interesting writing project created by Julie at Anglers Rest which will suggest a writing prompt every week on the theme of family history. I think this might be just what I need to make sure I have a regular source of inspiration. I don’t know yet if I will share everything I write on my blog, but the first week’s prompt hasn’t thrown up anything controversial so here it is:

Ask yourself 20 times “who are you.”

I found this tricky. I rattled off the first half-dozen, then clammed up. Was I saying the right kind of thing? Should I giving more deep and meaningful answers? I stopped thinking about it for five minutes then suddenly a lot more answers occurred to me and I couldn’t write them down quickly enough. Here’s the list:

I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a cousin
I am a friend
I am an introvert
I am a book addict
I am logical
I am creative
I am a snob
I am easily moved to tears
I am socially left-leaning and economically right-leaning
I am a singer
I am fascinated by the idea of life on other planets
I am vegetarian
I am happy with my own company
I am a worrier
I am short
I am a lover of all things French
I am lazy
I am a list-maker
I am organised
I am a dreamer

I can’t believe I’ve left off “writer” but I don’t think editing the list is quite in the spirit of the thing.

One thing that surprised me about my list are the contradictions. Logical yet emotional. Organised but a dreamer. It’s all true, I’m one mixed-up person!

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Up, up and away

As a teenager, on a certain weekend each August, I was often woken up early by the sound of the burner firing up in a low-flying hot air balloon as it passed close to our house.   I knew that if I looked out of the bedroom window I would see a huge ball of colour skimming the tops of the trees in the field opposite.  And that this ball of colour would be one of many passing overhead in the quiet early morning sky, after lifting off in one of the mass ascents at the balloon fiesta.

The 35th Bristol International Balloon Fiesta took place last weekend.  Assuming there’s been one every year, that means that I lived in Bristol for the first eleven of them, and yet I didn’t once go to see one of the mass ascents.

I remember my step-grandfather often went to watch the take-offs and always came back with lots of photographs of balloons of all shapes and sizes as they floated up from the take-off site.  I was never tempted to go myself, but I hadn’t discovered photography at that point in my life.

The event is completely dependent upon the weather. I don’t know the stats but I imagine fiestas where all six planned mass ascents have taken place are a rarity.  Anything more than a light wind, any rain or poor visibility and the balloons can’t take off.  For the last few years, since becoming the proud owner of a wonderful digital SLR camera, I’ve thought about going, but have been put off by the possibility that I might make the journey for nothing, if the weather isn’t right for take-off.  Finally this year I decided that I was just going to have to take a chance or I’d never get to see and photograph the spectacle of a mass ascent.

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I picked the Sunday morning as I thought that might be one of the quietest times to go.  I think I probably got that right, although fewer balloons went up on Sunday than had done so the previous morning.  For the first time in, well, as long as I can remember, I dragged both myself and my husband out of bed at 4.30 on a Sunday morning and as the sun was rising we arrived at the venue.

The take-off site was surrounded by the Jeeps, Landrovers and their trailers which had already deposited their balloons.  The balloons were laid out flat with their tiny-looking wicker baskets toppled over on their sides.  We waited for news of the weather following the pilots’ meeting, sitting on the damp grass, where we’d secured a vantage point we were not going to surrender, surrounded by groups of people with breakfast picnics and barbeques, and some of the biggest camera lenses I’ve ever seen.

Finally the announcement came over the loud-speaker.  The clouds were lifting and it was _MG_8654expected that the first balloons would take off after another twenty minutes.  In the meantime, they started to inflate, changing gradually from lifeless bags of washing on the ground to huge, vibrant balls of colour, towering above their empty baskets, straining at the leashes, desperate to clear the ground.

_MG_8676I was expecting some kind of fanfare before take-off, but suddenly I realised that one of the balloons was already several feet up in the air.  And then it had cleared the other balloons and was off.  Followed by another, and another. There didn’t seem to be any pattern to who took off when.  I imagine that there must have been a plan to stop them all colliding, but it wasn’t one I could fathom out.  Some of the first balloons to be inflated were the last to take off.

After about forty five minutes of watching the repeated pattern of inflating, untying the ropes, and gradually lifting from the ground, we’d seen all 76 of them go.  I won’t describe them all, I have plenty of pictures to show you.

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As I said, one of the reasons I wanted to go was the chance to take what I thought were going to be brilliant photographs.  Take photographs I most certainly did, over 100 in all, but I have to admit being slightly disappointed with the results.  I’ve got a few that are quite good, but none that you’d want to turn into a canvas on the wall.  I’ve also got a lot which were pretty much rubbish as the balloons were heading for the sun and I’ve either completely over- or under-exposed the shot.  More practice is definitely needed.

This brings me round to being creative.  For some photographers I know, being creative is all about seeing the perfect picture, composing it, framing it and getting the shot right.  The creativity ends there.  No photo-shopping, no funny effects.  I generally agree, but am at the same time bemused by the stance.  If I were to write a poem (don’t worry, I’ll spare you that), I would never assume that after a few moments of composing it in my mind and setting it down on paper, I would have achieved exactly what I was aiming for, that a bit of editing, changing a few words around, correcting my spelling, would not make it a better poem.  And yet I am reluctant to do the same with a photograph.  I feel more like I’m doctoring the picture, tampering with evidence, rather than improving upon the original creation.

Occasionally, when I get a photograph which I’m on the point of deleting as it’s come out all wrong, I will try_MG_8693 a few tweaks, a few colour effects, and sometimes even end up with a decent picture.  A picture, mind you, I would no longer refer to it as a photograph.  That’s exactly what I had to do with several of my balloon shots.

How about you?  If you are a photographer, does your creativity end when the shutter clicks, or do you enjoy experimenting with the results?  Should a photograph be an accurate reflection of what you actually saw, or is it the starting point to creating an image?

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I neglected my blog and….well, nothing fell off

Or: forgive me, reader, it has been six months since my last post

I started blogging just over a year ago. My motives were simple; I wanted to be more disciplined about writing, and I was frustrated that I could never say all that I wanted to say in a Facebook post.  My remit was wide; I wanted to talk about being creative in whatever form that took for me.

In no time at all I was hooked.  I blogged every week, I celebrated every “like” and comment, I started reading and following lots of other blogs, and was amazed each time someone decided to follow mine.  I was obsessed by the stats – ooh, look, in the last hour my post has been read by three people in China!

Then six months ago I stopped.  Not for any particular reason.  It wasn’t a conscious decision.  I just didn’t blog for a week, then that turned into two and so on.  And then I found that the longer I left it, the more difficult it was to re-start.

Three things have happened this week which colluded to get me back in the saddle.

First, out of the blue, I got a comment on an old post from the lovely colgore at pranaandpeaches which made me feel all warm and gooey.

Second, the theme for my creative writing group meeting last night was blogging.  Did anyone have a blog?  We were asked.  I cautiously admitted to a long-neglected one.  Opinions in the room varied from the “what a waste of time, why don’t these people get a life?” (I’d seen that one coming, hence the caution), through the “umm, internet, isn’t that a kind of scary place?”  Then there was the “well maybe, I might give it a go,” and finally “it’s an indispensable tool for any published writer who wants to sell his or her book.”

Then, this morning, I look at Facebook and see my friend at libroediting has posted a link to her blog, the subject of which was “10 reasons to write a blog”

OK, I get the message!  I shouldn’t ignore my blog any longer, so here I am.

I could give you a blow-by-blow account of what’s been going on with me for the last six months, but that would probably be kind of dull, right?  Suffice it to say that I am still being creative.

I’ve taught myself to crochet,

Bicton, Devon treated myself to an amazing wide-angle lens for my camera, which lets me take shots like this,

and my NaNoWriMo novel is still a work in progress, although of late there hasn’t been much work, and, not surprisingly, a corresponding lack of progress.

Instead I thought I’d use this first step back into the world of blogging to cheat at my creative writing homework.  So, tell me, if you blog, does your blog have a theme? Why did you choose the theme, and has it worked out?  Have you changed tack, consciously or otherwise?  If you were to start all over again, would you choose to write about something different?  What do you think makes a good theme for a blog?

Can you guess what my homework is?

I’m off to Bristol this weekend for the balloon fiesta, which should be a great place to get some more practice with my wide-angle lens, so will tell you about that next time. Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing.

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Calling all best men…or women

This week’s creative writing homework is to write a wedding speech for one of the following:

- a young, innocent couple

- an unsuited couple

- an elderly couple

- a couple marrying for the fifth time (presumably not to each other, but that does give me an idea)

Although I’ve been to lots of weddings, I’ve never had to make a speech.  I’ve heard some pretty awful ones, and some good ones.  I need inspiration.  I can’t see this being anything but a comedy piece.  Do you agree? What would you write?

Have you made a speech at a wedding, and if so, have you got any tips about what worked and what didn’t work?  Have you got a story of sitting through a terrible speech or a fantastic one?

Anything you can share would be appreciated!  Oh, and because I always like to include a picture, here’s one of my favourite photos from my wedding.  Where I most definitely didn’t make a speech!

phililpandzoe_82

 

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On being a not very good vegetarian and drinking wine

Three threads have combined in my head to form this blog post.  I’ll try to bring them together as smoothly as possible, but forgive me if the ride is a bit bumpy.

Firstly, I read this great post on being vegan by Miss Snarky Pants (how can you not love a blogger with that nom de plume?).  Hah!  I thought smugly.  I know my limits.  I would never try to be vegan, as I know I would fail.  Instead I will concentrate on being vegetarian, because I know I can do that properly.  We’ll come back to that.

Secondly I read this great post on animal welfare by DeDe at Rumpydog.  Again, my response was couched in smugness.  I am a vegetarian.  Of course I don’t do anything that would harm animals.  We’ll come back to that later too.

Third thing is this: as we approach the end of January, I am reflecting on how well I did with my January challenge.  My challenge was to cut out alcohol completely for a month, as an intro to generally cutting down.

ImageNow, whilst I’m not the type to consume vast quantities of alcohol in one sitting, I have gradually reached the point where drinking a moderate amount of wine has become an almost-daily occurrence. I certainly have a relationship with alcohol that I wouldn’t want to admit to on a life assurance proposal. I have been trying to tell myself that this is normal, lots of people live like this, a small amount of wine each day is actually good for you, and if I ever got to the point where I had to stop, then I would.  Trouble is, when you reach that point, it’s usually too late.  So to my January challenge.  Could I cut it out for a month?  Well we’re not at the end of the month yet, but I already know that I haven’t been totally successful.  I have succumbed on two occasions.  But the consumption for the month has dramatically reduced.

I won’t say it’s been easy, especially on evenings when my husband has been enjoying “my” wine!  But there have been some great benefits. I’ve lost 3 kilos (which is about 6.5 pounds for those of you who use old money), making me officially plain overweight instead of obese, and this in a month where I’ve been on a (successful) one-woman mission to finish off all the Christmas chocolate, and invented some really great new excuses not to go to the gym.  I’ve discovered it is possible to start watching a tv programme after 9pm and stay awake to the end.  And I’ve saved a shed-load of money.

In spite of these benefits, I can see myself slipping back into the old ways if I don’t pay careful attention.  So pay careful attention I shall.  I’m not going to give it up for good, but I am going to cut down. A lot.

Now back to the vegetarian bit and my attempt to draw these threads together.  One thing Imagethat’s hard about being a vegetarian is that there aren’t any rules, apart from the obvious not eating anything with a face (I think that’s attributable to Linda McCartney).  There are no vegetarian ten commandments.  There are no oaths of allegiance.  There’s a lot of stuff you have to figure out for yourself.  So, lacking in that basic guidance, I realise on reflection that I’ve not been such a good veggie after all. I’ve probably unwittingly eaten pastry made with lard, vegetable soup made with chicken stock and chips fried in goose fat.  Who am I kidding?  I lived in France for ten years, I know I will have done those things.  (See my previous post on the joys of being veggie in France here.) And yet on no occasion did the vegetarian police emerge from the kitchens brandishing cucumbers, ready to arrest me.  I have not been thrown out of the vegetarian society for these transgressions.  Because really, as Miss Snarky Pants already figured out, it’s all about me and my conscience, and finding what works for me.

One thing I’ve really been burying my vegetarian head in the sand about is wine.  I’ve not even let my conscience go near this one.  You see most wine is not vegetarian.  Animal products are often used to clarify the wine and improve the appearance of the finished product.  Now if I can’t justify the killing of animals for my food, I am being a hypocrite if I will put up with it to create a nice-looking bottle of wine, especially as non-animal alternatives are available.    The more I think about this one, the more my conscience prickles.

The difficulty is knowing when animal products have been used in wine production.  There must be somewhere I can find out, as it’s not obvious by reading the bottle.  I don’t recall ever seeing “suitable for vegetarians” on a wine label.  But I’m going to try to find out.

So here’s what I’m going to do for DeDe and Rumpydog: seek out vegetarian wine.

and don't forget to post your Blogger Challenge button!

And here’s what I’m going to do for myself: drink less of it.

Right, now what shall I do with all that money I’ve saved?

How about you?  Have you struggled with being a vegetarian or vegan?  Have you resolved to change your habits this year and if so, how is that going?

Images courtesy of Rumpydog and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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I liked the book, OK, now leave me be!

Here’s something you probably already know about me: I love reading books.  Here’s something you might not know: I hate telling people what I think about the books I’ve read.  Now I can understand that this might surprise you, given that I am a frequent user of BookCrossing, Good Reads, and belong to local reading group, all of which allow, nay, expect or even demand me to express my opinion on the books I have read.  So what’s my problem?

ImageI think it stems from my school days and the seemingly endless requirements to write book reports.  No matter how much I had enjoyed the book, I never enjoyed this activity, and have never learned to.

When I finish reading a book, I don’t mind saying that I loved it, or liked it, or thought it tolerable, or detested it.  Scratch the last one, if I detested it I wouldn’t have made it to the end.  I will tell a friend to give it a go, avoid it like the plague, or buy the movie rights.  More than that I cannot or will not say.  I have friends who write amazing reviews of books, especially on Good Reads.  They say all the right words about language and character development and what the author meant and other clever stuff.  I just can’t do that.  At best I manage a a brief synopsis of what the story was about.

And yet, as I approach the half-way point in editing my NaNo novel, I realise this kind of feedback, the kind I am incapable of giving, is exactly what I am going to have to ask of some guinea-pig readers.  It hardly seems fair of me to ask, does it?

I would also love to be able to write glowing reports of books I have read, reports that would encourage others to read the book, by way of giving some good publicity to the author, especially if the author isn’t well known.  Instead all I can manage are banalities along the lines of “great, loved it, read it, you won’t be disappointed.”

I’m trying to figure out if my problem is not so much that I am incapable of writing a decent review, and more that I just don’t want to share my thoughts with anyone else.  Or maybe I’m just shallow, and the “great, loved it, read it, you won’t be disappointed,” type review actually does encapsulate the entirety of my emotional and intellectual response.

Whatever the problem, I need to work on this, and start writing some decent reviews, especially if I am going to ask the same of others.

How about you?  Do you review the books you read, do you find it an easy thing to do, something you enjoy, or do you do it out of a sense of duty?

image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Father Peter, the Snow, the Angel and the Lost Day

I have a day off work today.  Just using up some holiday, no special plans.  So I decided to give myself what Peter Jones in How to do Everything and Be Happy would call a Boxing Day. That is a day for me, with nothing planned in advance; a day where I just go with the flow of whatever I want to do.  So far I have watched the snow falling, re-read the section in my photography book on how to capture great snow pictures, had a big breakfast and wasted some time playing on line games.  Correction, that was not a waste of time at all.  I was then overcome with a desire to do my creative writing homework, which, given that I have another three weeks to complete it, is unprecedented.  The theme for this piece was a lost day.  Here’s what I’ve written, let me know what you think:

ImageOn his last day on earth, Father Peter conducted the matins service to a congregation of precisely no-one, unless you counted the angel hovering in the lady-chapel.

The lack of congregation was nothing unusual, especially not for a snowy Monday morning in January.  Even the presence of the angel was not a first.

The angel had first appeared to Father Peter precisely one year earlier, and had informed him, matter-of-factly, with no build-up whatsoever, that Father Peter had exactly 365 more days left on earth; it was time to start putting his affairs in order.

Until today, Father Peter had been relatively calm about his impending fate.  Although he didn’t think of himself as old, he considered he’d had a good innings. Retirement was looming, but with the prospect of spending it alone, it wasn’t something he was looking forward to.

As Father Peter ended the service with the blessing, the angel moved into the transept.

“Peter, have you remembered the message I gave you last year?” It asked.

“Of course.”

“And are you ready to meet your maker?”

Peter hesitated.  “I think so, but, well, I’m a bit scared. I don’t mind that my end has come, but I’m worried that the process might be, umm, painful.  I’m a bit of a coward in the face of pain.  I wish it could just be this time tomorrow and the whole business behind me.”

“As you wish,” said the angel, smiling enigmatically and floating up into the high vaulted ceiling, where it disappeared.

Father Peter locked the church up and returned to the rectory.  The ladies should be arriving soon, for their regular tea, cake and gossip meeting, otherwise known as “planning the church fair”.

The rectory was strangely silent.  Fluffy the cat was nowhere to be seen.  The ladies didn’t turn up as planned, and after half an hour Father Peter was worried and started to ‘phone around.  ‘Phones rang and rang without anyone answering.  Looking out of the front window, Father Peter realised that he hadn’t seen anyone walking through the village since he left the church.  He turned on the radio, and then the television, but picked up only static on both.

As he walked into the kitchen, he thought he could hear the echo of laughter, and the faintest whiff of coffee cake.  Absent-mindedly, he reached for a portion of cheese from the fridge but found it strangely without taste.

What was happening to him?  Had he died already?  Was this the afterlife?  If so, this surely couldn’t be the reward for many years of dedicated service to the church.  He must be in the other place.  Out of habit, and with a mounting sense of panic, he started to pray.

“Father, what has become of me?”

The angel appeared from the larder, surreptitiously licking the remaining crumbs of coffee cake from its lips.

“Father Peter, at your request, I transported you 24 hours into the future to avoid the moment of your death.  Is this not what you wanted?”

“No!” Father Peter replied, “I don’t like it here, where is everyone else, what has happened to Fluffy and why does my cheese taste of nothing?”

“I am a very low-ranking angel”, the angel replied, “I brought you 24 hours into the future, but didn’t have the power to bring the rest of the world with you.  Everyone else is still in your yesterday.  Occasionally you will catch glimpses of them, when a sound or taste or emotion leaves an impression strong enough to linger for a day, but you cannot communicate with them.  On the bright side, you’re still alive.”

“What is the good of that?” Father Peter asked. “I think I’d rather be dead!”

ImageAs he finished the blessing, Father Peter was distracted by the sensation that his mind had wandered whilst he had been pronouncing the words, but for the life of him he could not remember what he had been thinking.  The angel watched from the lady-chapel as Father Peter packed up, locked the church, walked across the graveyard and stepped onto the road, straight into the path of an on-coming lorry, as it skidded towards him through the snow.

images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos,net

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Hook Line and Sinker

Just in case you are here under false pretences, let me start with a disclaimer: this post has nothing to do with fishing.

Rather, I’ve been thinking about the subject we discussed in my creative writing group this week: the opening line. We were presented with a pile of about ten books (we meet in a library so that’s easily arranged) and asked to discuss the opening line of each. We decided to put the books into three piles, based solely on the opening line:

  • Those whose first lines screamed “read more” to us
  • Those whose first lines screamed “stop right there”
  • Those whose first lines left us feeling unsure if we would continue or not

It was hard to judge the first line in isolation, given that we knew what the book was. If you want to try this exercise, I suggest you ask someone to copy the first lines of books and hand you the words alone, without any other clues.

The results certainly surprised us, both in terms of what we would like to read more of, and what we immediately dismissed.

Our favourite first line was:

“Stavros had chosen to be celibate”.

We were immediately intrigued and wanted to know why he had chosen to be celibate, who he was, why he was called Stavros, and even if he was he just kidding himself and he so unlucky in love he’d decided to pretend it was intentional. That’s a lot of questions on the back of six simple words.

Our least favourite first line was:

“Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen sat one morning in the window-bay of their father’s house in Beldover, working and talking”.

We didn’t like the names of the characters, thought there was both too much information and too little happening in the first sentence, and our attention wasn’t in any way grabbed.

In spite of our pre-conceived ideas, we put Fifty Shades of Grey on the “read more” pile, as the first sentence isn’t bad, although the words do seem to be in the wrong order: “I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror” (I understand it all goes down-hill from there, in more ways than one). We also surprised ourselves by putting Dickens (Bleak House) on the “don’t read this” pile, and a Stephen King on the “maybe” pile.

Our considered opinion was that the best first lines were the ones that made you ask “why”. So how much importance should be put on the first line of a novel? Does the first line really influence your opinion of the book, and would you ever decide not to carry on based on the first line only?

This is of course of interest to me as I edit my WIP, the first line of which reads as follows:

“Ellie disappeared the day after our 18th birthday party”.

I hope there’s something there to pique the reader’s interest. Does that make you ask “why”? Would you read on?

Oh, and without googling, can you name the novels/stories from which I’ve taken our most and least favourite first lines, quoted above?

image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos

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