Posts Tagged writing

The Jade Avenger Journal

8 July 2013

The Journey Begins

Over the next two weeks, I have the unique opportunity of being able to focus exclusively on my “fun” writing. Although I’ll still need to do some of the writing/editing that pays the bills, I’ll be able to concentrate on writing for pleasure during the bulk of the day. What a dream come true! My number one focus is the children’s detective fiction story The Mystery of the Jade Avenger.

I’ve pulled out some of my Agatha Christie novels to analyze her writing style. I haven’t wanted to do this much previously because I feared it would spoil the enjoyment I have in simply reading her books for pleasure. But she really is the author I most look up to and whose style I would most love to emulate. I looked up several things about her and her writing style. One website provided detailed information concerning each of her dedications and who they were intended for, which provides great insight into the author’s mind and heart.

There are a couple of books out there that detail Agatha Christie’s writing style. My library doesn’t have them, but I would certainly love to get my hands on them – especially the one that deals with her “secret” journals, the notebooks in which she kept all her plot and character information. What a read that would be!

At this point I’m simply writing down in the manuscript any ideas related to plot, characters, dialogue or setting that come into my mind. It’s like putting a puzzle together really: I do the “edges” first by creating a basic outline, then fill in a little patch here and there as inspiration leads, each part of the puzzle making the overall picture a little clearer.

At some point in the future I’ll have to sort out the scenes and put them in proper order, and choose what to keep and what to delete. I have a lot of plot possibilities and will have to choose which way to go at each crossroads. I’ll have to smooth out dialogue, etc. But I am more optimistic than ever that it will all work itself out and someday I will actually have a finished manuscript!

Best Opening Lines in Literature

7 April 2013

“You do see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?”

Though you may be told not to judge a book by its cover, you can certainly learn a lot from its opening line. The line above, uttered by an exasperated Raymond Boynton in Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death, is my favorite opening phrase in literature. Here are other outstanding first lines from classic works — See which ones would inspire you to keep reading.


“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

George Orwell, 1984


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities


“You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter.”

Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


“It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.”

Paul Auster, City of Glass


“Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.”

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote


“All this happened, more or less.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five


“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.”

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God


“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader


“The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children’s games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up.”

G.K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill


“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”

Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle


“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley.”

Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca


“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

Genesis 1:1, The Bible (King James Version)

And, of course, that classic line …


“It was a dark and stormy night …” Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford

Quote of the Day

31 October 2011

“Writing is my way of slowing time down. How could that be? you might ask. It uses more time. Yes, but no. Writing, it turns out, is the best way I know to capture it.”

— Carol Rizzoli, author


Writer’s Disease

23 March 2011

Writers. Here we are, one minute loving our work with an absolute passion and prepared to live or die for it, and the next minute ready to fling ourselves and our laptops out the window. One day – typing furiously under inspiration – we wonder how many days we can go without showering before someone starts to notice, and the next we stare for hours at a merciless, unyielding screen wishing bitterly for one word, one single perfect word, to unblock our brain.

Someone once said, “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”

Well said. Surely there’s something more akin to a disease than to a legitimate occupation in the writer’s life. In fact, if “Writer’s Disease” were listed as an entry in the Merck Manual of Medical Information, I’m quite sure there would be a diagram of the writer’s brain with a statement that it figures as one of life’s hopelessly inexplicable mysteries.

There might even be numbers indicating, phrenology-style, the typical thoughts in a writer’s brain at any given time. (I will neither confirm nor deny that these thoughts have been uttered at some point by myself or writers of my acquaintance.)

Right Side of Writer’s Brain

“I need to organize every file in my house.”

“I’m craving pepperoni pizza.”

“Maybe I should take up a real job like telemarketing.”

“This room is too quiet.”

“This room is too noisy.”

“I’m tired. I’ve never been so tired in my life.”

“And I call myself a writer …”

Left Side of Writer’s Brain

I am such a genius. Just wait until the world reads this piece I’m working on.”

“Why is my stomach growling? When did I eat last? Was that really 20 hours ago? Wow, I’m a machine!”

“Haven’t slept in days and the brain’s still going strong. I am such a genius.”

“Oh, that I were not a mere mortal subject to everyone else’s whim and timing!”

“Who says, ‘No man is an island’? Where’s my island?! I want my island!”

“I am such a genius.”

“How did this place get so messy? Oh well, I’ll worry about that later.”

Ah, the writer’s life!!