Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten wisest ways not to start your story:

10. It was a dark and stormy night.

  9. Once upon a time. . . .

  8. It all began long before she was born, when her great-great-grandmother. . . .

  7. The story I'm about to tell you. . . .

  6. He answered the phone, but little did he know. . . .

  5. He yawned and stretched after turning off his alarm.

  4. Her heart pounded when the bullet zinged by her head, but then she woke up.

  3. She ran toward the subway, her long raven hair flying behind her, afraid of missing her train and not thinking about her breakup with Eddie.

  2. He was tired, wet, and hungry.

And the #1 wisest way not to start your story:

  1. Once upon a time, it was a dark and stormy night. The story I'm going to tell you began long ago when her great-grandmother ran toward the subway, her long raven hair flying behind her, afraid of missing her train and not thinking about her breakup with Edward, who was tired, wet, and hungry. Her heart pounded when the bullet zinged by her head, but then she woke up. Edward yawned and stretched after turning off his alarm and answered the phone, but little did he know. . . .

30 comments:

Laura Eno said...

Ha! #1 could be a bestseller (just like #10 was).
#2 could be interesting, depending on "what" the narrator happened to be... ;)

Aubrie said...

Very Funny! Too bad I can't use Once Upon a time....

Mason Canyon said...

I've always been a big fan of "It was a dark and stormy night." Great list. Have a wonderful weekend.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Lydia Kang said...

Oh, I totally chuckled when I came to your last paragraph! That is so funny!

Kathy McIntosh said...

Thanks for the reminders. Now to some serious editing of page one!

Carol Kilgore said...

Laura - Feel free to pick any of these - LOL

Aubrie - I know.

Mason - Thanks. You, too.

Lydia - Cool :)

Kathy - I'm editing my wip now ... can you tell?

Helen Ginger said...

Excellent, excellent. Loved the way you combined all of them into one opening!

Helen

Jayne said...

Is it wrong for me to confess I LOVE 'it was a dark and stormy night'? I do. Can't help it. I know it is bad and a cliche, but it still somehow rocks my boat... not that I will use it. Yet. Bwhahaha...

arlee bird said...

Dang! Now what do I use-- I thought I was being so original with my openings.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Elspeth Antonelli said...

LOVE this! Oh, that dratted beginning! How wonderful would it be if we could simply write "First sentence."

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Fun list – loved how they all blended together in #1.

Carol Kilgore said...

Helen - Glad you enjoyed it.

Jayne - Love what you want! Just take care before using it in your manuscript :)

Arlee - You can do it. Maybe something like: It was a clear and sunny day. No?

Elspeth - I totally agree. Even better if we could type "First sentence." and our intuitive computer could fill it in as we go, so that by the end it was perfect. If I knew how to write such a program, we could share the fortune.

Jane - Thanks!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like number twelve!

VR Barkowski said...

LOL! I would love to see the face of the agent who gets to read #1.

Have a great weekend, Carol!

Terry Odell said...

This post is a perfect complement to Patricia Stoltey's "great first sentences" blog today. Did you two plan this?

Clarissa Draper said...

That's so funny. So, what are you saying? I have to change all eight of my books?

CD

Carol Kilgore said...

Alex - Oh, yeah :)

VR - Me, too!

Terry - No plan. I haven't been to her blog yet today, so I see a quick visit is in order. Thanks.

Clarissa - Hmmm ... maybe just a tiny tweak or two.

notesfromnadir said...

I know about it was a dark & stormy night but since I haven't read any kids books in ages I forgot about once upon a time.

All these are bad & I really had a good laugh. Thanks! :)

Ann Best said...

This is SO clever. But maybe we CAN start with one of these, if we can think of a way to turn it into something original/clever ... ?
Ann

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

Absolutely love number one!

Carol Kilgore said...

Lisa - You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed the bad lines :)

Ann - Let's see ...
Once upon a midnight dreary. No.
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Nooo.
Sigh.

Holly - I'm smiling :)

irishoma said...

Very clever and funny!
Donna V.
http://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com

Cassandra Jade said...

No 1 is fantastic.

The story beginning is so hard to write, but at least it is easy to see how we shouldn't start even if we can't figure out how we should.

Thanks for sharing this list.

patti said...

I am pretty sure if you send this off to someone in Nashville, you will have written a best-selling country song.

Hold the line for a contact, ya hear now???

P

Carol Kilgore said...

Donna - Thanks for smiling :)

Cassandra - I always feel as if I rewrite the opening a Brazillian times before it even comes close.

Patti - Ooh, a country song. Now why didn't I think of that - LOL!

Carol Ann said...

I wonder truly if a story is doomed to fail because its unwary author began it with one of those old tired intros. Possibly an editor would stop right there, but readers would not be as turned off. Of course, readers read published materials, which editors (I think) select.

My daughter once wrote a fantasy short story that I thought was really good. She wrote one line that may not have been overly used or used at all, and may have been uniquely hers. Whatever, I loved it and teased her about it and do to this day. When something bad happens, I like to lighten it up by quoting her line in that story, "Something happened that NEVER should have happened!"

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

hahaha Very clever!

Doris Plaster

Carol Kilgore said...

Carol Ann - In today's arena, if a writer wishes to pursue any form of traditional publishing or wishes to find an agent to represent our work, we have to write to market. We can take one of these trite openings and twist it to make it unique, or continue in the same paragraph to show a different meaning than the words suggest, or something else original. Anything less most likely equals a 'no thanks.'

Doris - Thanks.

Welcome to the Tiki Hut, ladies.

Palindrome said...

I'm going to use all of these now...for exercises. :D Get it out of my system. LOL!

Carol Kilgore said...

There you go! Just remember this when you write :)