Friday, November 17, 2006

Be Careful Sending In the Dogs

by W.L. Elliott

Having found myself staring down another deadline, with not a shadow of a notion what to write, I turned to my notes from the 2006LDStorymakers Writers Conference.

Pages upon pages of sound, educational writing advice and I still had no ideas. Then, in the midst of the notes from one particular workshop, I stumbled across the most amazing sentence, instantly lighting a fire of curiosity and, hopefully, leading to something entertaining -or better yet, inspirational. It said, simply:

"Be careful sending in the dogs."

I have no clue whatsoever what that sentence means. I wanted to read more, but there was no more to read. The notes following went on about effectively curing writers block; there was no more about any dogs, or why I should be sending them somewhere. I could imagine all sorts of intriguing situations springing from a sentence like that, but I ended up leaving my notes unsatisfied and irritated, never knowing the outcome of those poor pooches.

As a fumble, I accomplished something accidentally that good writers strive to do on purpose-give your readers a first line that leaves them dying to read more, to know more, to find out where the dogs are going and why. In so doing, I also unwittingly committed the first cardinal sin of writing-breaking the promise of a great story made by an amazing opening.

So what have I gained from all this?I have learned the true power of a really awesome beginning, and the promise of a good story that comes along behind.

And to take better notes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We can all relate! You did a great job of putting into words an experience that every writer has had at least once in their career.

PS: Loved the drawing of Bowser. Did you do that during the Conference? :-)