Struggling with the first sentence by Misha Herwin


I shouldn’t be writing my blog. I should be working on Chapter 3 of the new Poppy and Amelia book, which I would be doing if I could get the first sentence down on the screen. Those opening words are the key to everything. Once they are in place the rest of the chapter will flow. I know exactly what’s going to happen and who is going to say and do what. It’s the start that’s so hard.

It’s a little like the old days when you had to pull out the clutch before the car would start. Those of us that drove rust buckets can probably remember that feeling of trepidation when you got into the car and had no idea whether the engine would start first time. If it didn’t you were in danger of flooding the carburettor and then you’d have to wait before you could try again and if you were already late…

Perhaps the trick is to use a standard formula “It was a dark and stormy night,” for example. Except in my story, it isn’t. It’s a bright summer afternoon on the last day but one of term and the two apprentice witches have a problem they need to solve before school the next morning. Being not totally skilled in magic, something is bound to go wrong, now there’s a thought…

I may not have cracked the first sentence, but I’ve come up with a great idea. But if you want to find out what it is, you’ll have to wait until I’ve finished writing the book. 


Griselda Heppel said…
That sounded a good first sentence to me! Reminiscent of ‘it was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ There are phrases we must never use, apparently, like ‘It was the first day of the school holidays,’ or yes, the celebrated ‘it was a dark and stormy night.’ But subvert them just a little, as Orwell did, and you do in your blog above, and you get a sense of freshness and sharp wit. I love how Katherine Rundell begins her book, Wolf Wilder, with ‘.Once upon a time, there was a dark and stormy girl.’ Pure genius.

Hope you’ve got your sentence now and are bowling along.

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