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The Write Stuff: In The Beginning

David Flin

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
A seven-letter word beginning with M. Something that the author has only a passing acquaintance with, at best.
 

AndyF

Shadow Under-Secretary for Treacle & Jam Mining
Patreon supporter
Monkeys? Muppets?
Maestro would seem to fit... Good article, David.
Useful advice overall & I particularly liked the part about reading the first line aloud to yourself to see if the hook felt right.
 

AndyC

Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
I agree - bloody useful, and helps focus on both the importance of getting the first line write, and how to get it right.
 

Redolegna

Champagne Socialist
Moderator
Published by SLP
Location
Paris
Pronouns
he/him
Useful advice overall & I particularly liked the part about reading the first line aloud to yourself to see if the hook felt right.
It's an old and honoured tradition. Gustave Flaubert put every line he wrote through this test. Not only of saying it aloud out but shouting it. He called it the "gueuloir", the 'bellower'. As a result, his literary style is held as one of the finest in French literature.

Mind you, he's also infamous for once rejoicing about having managed to write all of ten lines of one of his novels in a day.
 

David Flin

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
It's an old and honoured tradition. Gustave Flaubert put every line he wrote through this test. Not only of saying it aloud out but shouting it.
I'm not convinced it's necessary to shout it. I tend to use a voice appropriate to the mood it's conveying. For example, someone wanting to pass on information without anyone else, other than the intended listener, overhearing will probably whisper. So I whisper in this instance.

Of course, it does help that I work at home without anyone around me, unless I'm working somewhere else.

It's absolutely key to get the rhythm of dialogue right. Then, of course, there's the issue about dialogue from characters operating in something that isn't their first language. You can often tell that someone is using a second language but the rhythm of their speech. Sentence structures can sometimes be not quite as expected. Not wrong, but different. Listening to the rhythms of dialogue, well, that's a subject for a future article ...
 

AndyF

Shadow Under-Secretary for Treacle & Jam Mining
Patreon supporter
I had forgotten it was the opening line of Six East End Boys.

Modesty?
Ah. Well caught.
That will be why I felt something a-Blaise... oh never mind.
Advising writers to be careful using pop culture references is helpful too (especially old ones, it alienates a portion of the prospective readership).
I tend to mutter them to myself, it sometimes helps with dialogue too.
 

David Flin

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
Ah. Well caught.
That will be why I felt something a-Blaise... oh never mind.
Advising writers to be careful using pop culture references is helpful too (especially old ones, it alienates a portion of the prospective readership).
I damn near put that reference in.
 

Tabac Iberez

Impetious
Published by SLP
Mind you, he's also infamous for once rejoicing about having managed to write all of ten lines of one of his novels in a day.
A feeling I'm sure all of the writers for Sealion have shared at some point.

Advising writers to be careful using pop culture references is helpful too (especially old ones, it alienates a portion of the prospective readership).
The trick to pop culture is to keep it varied, brief, and moving. Jokes about hobbiest woes can easily sit next to Melville and millitaria memetics, but the catch is that in the example the jokes are varied, buried in sound style, and acknowledged as jokes. If the audience laughs, bravo: just make sure they laugh with you and not at you.
 
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