Tag: Beginnings

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. If I Were Your Writing Coach, I Would Start You at the Beginning

 

Your first line is the most important of your written work. It is like the door to your house or business. You want it to be inviting so the reader will feel welcome and come for a visit in the world you have created. If the door to your house is chipped and scuffed and needs painting or refinishing and maybe the screen on the storm door is hanging loose, people might be a little hesitant to come visit. If you want to be a professional writer, your first line is the door to your business. If the opening of your written work is sloppy or uninteresting, why would the reader want to move on to the next line? If the first paragraph is dull or passive or even seemingly evasive through being non-specific, why would a reader want to bother reading the second paragraph? You don’t want your reader to feel like they have entered a rough part of town where few of the houses are maintained.

As mentioned in the previous entry of this series, I critique a fair number of works of art before they are seen by the public. While I have critiqued works of visual and industrial art, my forte is in the written word. I have helped other authors develop poems, short stories, novellas, novels, and even non-fiction works. I often come across the same issues in the works of many authors, especially those who are amateurs or just trying to break into the profession. This conversation will highlight one of these common issues and errors: the weak opening.

Action and Active Voice

If you are writing most types of fiction, write your first sentence in the active voice. You probably want the whole first paragraph in the active voice. You want to establish movement in your novel or short story. Don’t set the scene. Don’t tell your reader that it’s a bright and sunny day or that a vehicle moves slowly.¹ Focus on a character and what he, she, or it is doing.

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The first month of the year is over, and with it the “Beginnings’ project. We had 31 entries this month from 31 different contributors. (Way to go!). Two hit the Main Feed, and I am sure a couple of other would have had their authors not marked them “Do Not Promote”. One conversation racked up […]

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Thirty-one years ago today, I began to live what I always wanted to be. I became a mom. It was not very fashionable then, to want to be a stay at home mom. My mother was appalled that I chose not to be a professional woman but this was the life I wanted. What I […]

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Our oldest finished high school last spring; and as I watch her begin her journey into adulthood, it strikes me that beginnings are sparked by very last first times. Sometimes those very last firsts mark simple, everyday happenings – like the very first time you shop at a new store. Do they have my favorite brands here? Sometimes they mark life-altering, change-the-course-of-your-life events […]

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Any complete career change is a crapshoot when you’re a middle-aged person. I have a Master’s degree which I never used, and from the time in the mid- 1970s when I graduated, I spent twelve years as a hospital pharmacy assistant, gaining one of the first licenses given out after they were required by Washington […]

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There is an Israeli children’s ditty that runs as follows: The almond tree is blooming / and a golden sun is shining. Preview Open

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Texas, 1979: I Got Here as Soon as I Could

 

Drive Friendly I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could. It is a popular bumper sticker in Texas. In a way, it describes my life.

My wife Quilter and I are natives of Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a nice place to grow up between the 1950s and 1970s, when the two of us were growing up. When I graduated from college? Not so much. In 1979, Michigan was going through a recession which was emptying out the state. Jobs were not to be had, perhaps especially in Ann Arbor. The supply of labor was sky high due to new Michigan graduates who wanted to stay. Thanks to the Michigan recession, the supply of jobs was about as low as a submarine’s keel at test depth.

Quilter and I could have lived in my parent’s basement (literally – they had a suite built into it). Back then, when you were married and had a freshly-minted BS in Engineering, you did not go that route. Besides, thanks to the engineering bust of 1972-74 (when I started college and no one else was crazy enough to major in engineering), the demand for freshly-minted engineers was at record levels. Outside Michigan that is.

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Let me start by saying my husband is a New Yorker and he has New York values. By that I mean he comes from a family of noodges, and despite his considerable generosity and charm, the noodge chromosome elbows its way into dominance every so often. Preview Open

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TL;DR The First Beginning won’t be the Last Beginning Beginnings January 22, 1972 was our wedding day. That is an obvious and stereotypical beginning, but I didn’t realize how may other beginnings would follow. I married the woman – Gail – I had first met as a girl of 13 (our mothers were in the […]

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The Five Files: A Different Way to Think About Job Searching

 

career-changeOver the years, I’ve helped a lot of people write their résumés and cover letters. Not one of them enjoyed putting them together. It’s a lot of work. I once read an article about the steps companies should take to retain their favorite employees. The author pointed out that employees who left were most likely to do so in their first year. I laughed because I knew why: Those new hires had just gone through the job search process, their résumé and contact list were up to date, they were used to making phone calls, and they were used to interviews: “If I don’t want to stay here, I don’t have to.”

Let me give you some good advice based on having helped a lot of people with job searches.

1. Update your master résumé twice a year.

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“I am NOT DOING THIS,” I declared to my sister as we looked at the profiles on Match.com. “Oh look, this guy’s a doctor!” And thus began this new chapter of my life. Single again after 20 years of marriage. I felt like I’d been dropped onto a strange new planet. The last time I […]

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My arrival in early 1974 was inauspicious . I have photographic evidence of this humble beginning. I see a pink-faced sleeping newborn swaddled in a hospital blanket, assigned with a small placard designating me as “13.” The Thai nurses attached no significance to that number. They were focused on some lack of reflex in the five pound, four ounce infant, and were trying to bottle feed […]

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Fifty five years ago today, my idyllic life as an only child came to an end and I began the rest of my life as a sibling. We were living in Mubi, in the British Cameroons which was, at the time, administered as a United Nations Trust Territory. In a few short months, a plebiscite […]

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Sound, perhaps more than any of the five senses, creates us. Aristotle claimed that vision was the highest of the senses and he was right when he said we take great delight in the things we see. But at least in my experience, the beauty revealed in the sounds of life is of timeless effect. […]

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Beethoven for years had wanted to set Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” to music. That he finally and brilliantly succeeded near the end of his life confirms the strength of his spirit despite near total deafness. (The Heiligenstadt Testament provides some insight.) I chose the 4th movement not because it represents the novel use of voices […]

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A blank page, a potential beginning; but so intimidating, the threat of the perpetual null. I can fill it with the grocery list just to get started: milk, eggs, deli meat, cheese … or the to-do list: dishes, laundry, take down the Christmas tree (preferably before Easter). Anything will do, really. I’ve been doing this […]

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Over 20 years ago, I was a Jew in name only and Zen Buddhism “found me,” and I loved the practice. Ironically, my meditation practice brought me to experience G-d’s presence in my life. So I thought it might be a good idea to re-explore my Jewish roots. After trying to make that emotional and […]

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It was the year of the First Gulf War. I had spent the first half of the year in Israel, taking courses at Hebrew University and singing in choirs and musicals (Fiddler on the Roof in Hebrew was fun). All in all, a welcome and eye-opening break after my first year at college. When it […]

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It takes so little to feed Group Writing – and you can help. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of Ricochetti hungry for Group Writing every day. Group Writing feeds many needs on Ricochet. It provides a focus for conversation; the January topic is Beginnings. It offers a daily dose of conversation removed from politics. It […]

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