Latest Writing Tip : Don’t Bury Your Lead

In the last week, I’ve managed to upload a bit more chapters and I’m grateful to you, the readers for accepting, reading and liking my posts (for the Way of the Seer). Seriously kudos and thank you! While doing this though, I’ve also tried to keep up with my reading, which as you all know can help us, to write better. One good thing I’ve learned in that time is that while there are many maxims for writing, one of the greatest seems to me: don’t bury your lead.

Now, depending on the writer, such a line might come either at the end or the start of the paragraph. For some of the really great writers, having a good lead-in at the start of a piece can be really insightful. Moving. Even if every writer is different or uses different techniques. Check for yourself. Get a copy of the Cuckoo’s Calling or the Husband’s Secret and see for yourself. Both are a good read. No, sorry, great read. Or even check the novel you are currently reading.

I mean here are two writers are not afraid to create intrigue by laying it all on the line. The Husband’s Secret begins with the line: It was all because of the Berlin Wall… I know to some of you it might not seem like much, but this very line, lays the groundwork for the entire novel. Think of other novels you may have read, how did they begin? For me the novel, Every Day (by David Levithan) comes to mind. It starts with the line: I wake up. Either way, the writer (of THS), Liane Moriarty digs deep, gets us in there. Down in the trenches, where her story unfolds. Trust me, I read the first three chapters before going to bed and woke up ready to thumb through the rest of the novel as if I had discovered the Holy Grail.

As writers, sometimes we may lack direction and purpose, but keep at it. That opening line is just as crucial as the adjoining mini steps that comes at the start of the other alternating paragraphs. Create a trajectory. Focus your readers by redirecting language that might have otherwise seemed like sloppy edits. Take your time. Relax and read over what you have written, edit it and then re-write. Give your readers their money’s worth. (Or if you’re still learning the craft, like me, keep at it, in time you’ll be duly rewarded).

And just in case you’ve like the post, leave a comment. Tell me some of the books you like/d and some of the lead in’s that really hooked you. And above all, remember to the two most important lessons of being a writer: Read, read, read. And write, write, write. I wish you all the best in your many endeavours.

Below is a copy of the before and after versions of chapter 21, The Dog Ate My Homework. See for yourself how the first sentence helps control the piece.

Chapter 21: No Seriously, the dog ate my homework.

As the other students walked through the huge mahogany doors, Brandi strolled in after them. Wondering how it was that one minute she was, where she was supposed to be, and then (the next) somehow she was in another. Cursing under her breath, she grabbed a couple of things from out of her locker and then made it further down the hall to math class.

Oh great, she though, as a trio of teachers moved past the door before her. Her head/she caught sight of the back of Mrs. Jenkins’ head and the curl of her horn-rimmed glasses. She would have thirty minutes to accomplish a feat that should have taken her all night (a few hours).

Brandi groaned and dropped into one of the back chairs, noticing for the first time that Roger and Teresa’s chairs were also empty. Until the door opened again, and she caught sight of her friend removing a pair of sunglasses from her face. She frowned, not really remembering her friend as someone who would be dulls up/glammed up. Brandi lowered her head, pulled out a few books and laid them almost silently onto her desk. As she bit into the bottom of her pencil, almost snapping/ chewing off the eraser.

Chapter 21: The Dog Ate My Homework

As the other students walked through the school’s mahogany doors, Brandi followed. Wondering how it was that one minute, she was, where she was supposed to be and the next, in another place entirely. Cursing under her breath, she grabbed a couple of things from her locker, and then, she went further down the hall to math class.

Ahead of her, she caught sight of a trio of teachers. Her breath caught. She was dismayed at seeing the curl. Edge of a pair of horn-rimmed glasses which she knew belonged to Mrs. Jenkins. Oh, great! she thought, feeling the huge expanse that she had often thought of as time, slip through her fingers. There was no way she would accomplish this feat in half an hour, she lamented, holding her head in her hands. Why had she squandered the night?

She dropped onto the black-cushioned, metallic chair, searching for her friends, but Roger and Teresa weren’t there. They had absconded. Why hadn’t she also received the memo? she thought, pulling books out of her bag and dropping them onto the desk, as if their usefulness meant nothing to her. She glanced out the window and forced herself to take a calming breath. Then she heard the side door open again and she caught sight of Teresa. A new and improved version of Teresa, who was wearing a pair of designer shades, and looked way too glammed up. Something inside of her shifted and she shook her head, remembering the party that she had been tricked into attending. She turned her face, hoping to avoid another confrontation, like the one on the bus.

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