Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chew and Let Go!

We bought a puppy six days after we got married, and a day after Valentine’s Day. His name is Shakespeare. When we first brought him home, we weren’t sure if he’d take to us, but he had no problem owning his bed, and now after a month, is part of our family.

Shakespeare chews on anything he can get a hold of and refuses to let it go. There were several toys we bought him that we took away because he chewed them apart. He also stumbles over his own feet and is awkward when it comes to new things.

Watching him reminds me much of my writing. When I wrote my first unpublished romance novel, I spent hours chewing on words until I finally came up with what I thought was the perfect sentence and then I refused to let them go. I stumbled over tenses and show vs. tell, which I struggle with to this day, but I continued to write and improve my writing.

Markus Zusak, author of the Book Thief said, “The only other thing I’d say is that I’m always trying to write a better book than the last one. I want to grow with every book." This is exactly what I want.

I remember reading my first novel and noticing that the writing was cheap. It was forced. I told the story instead of showing it, and my sentence structures were awkward and choppy. I’m so glad I didn’t publish it because there was so much I needed to learn ... and still…

But I grew with that book, just like my characters do. I like my characters in my first book, somewhat flawed, but they grow as the story progresses. My published novel, Net Switch, deals with a damaged soul. The character growth doesn’t have the same progression as the first story—more of a challenge. The main character needs to gradually become unhinged, fight inner demons and those who put her safety at risk. In comparison to the first book, I see how much I’ve developed as a writer. 

One thing I’ve noticed though is I haven’t written in one genre. My first book would probably be categorized as romance; Net Switch is a dark, psychological suspense; and my current novel is a cross genre of women's fiction and chick-lit. I don’t know if this makes me a confused writer or one wanting to be diverse. What I do know is that I’ve learned to stumble during writing, chew on sentences and then let them go, if needed.

I think it’s interesting to take a look at the opening lines of books to get a sense of the story and its strengths. Here are mine:

Romance novel - “Death came to relieve the pain and carry me to a place with no beginning or end.”

Net Switch - “Mental institutions don’t relieve the mind of misery, they only create more chaos where overcrowding exists.”

Current Manuscript - “They all sat around, eyes on me, watching for signs of ... what? I felt like a substance in a petri dish.”

Do you care to share your opening lines or maybe the first line of one of your favorite books?

Puppies and Writing,


  1. In the interest of stepping out of my comfort zones, I will share my opening line from the Bits and Pieces post I plan to share tomorrow.

    "Have you ever felt like you needed to change yourself. I don't mean self improvement. I am thinking more along the lines of that scene in Pink Floyd's The Wall. You know the one. When he shaved all visible hair from his face and head off."

    1. Thanks for sharing, Jon. I'm looking forward to reading it tomorrow.

  2. Well here is my opening paragraph from a novel in progress:

    My Mom told me on March 11 that she was having a baby. Let’s see, when I am 21 she will be 10, I remembered thinking that day. I will be a teenager when she is three. I dreamt all the time about my 13th birthday and going to middle school. I hated the fifth grade because my classmates made fun of me and played mean jokes on me. None of that mattered though when I heard the news. It's like those simple words, "Mia, I am having a baby," washed away all the bad stuff at school. I would soon have a little baby sister or brother to love.

    I think it still needs work. Have rewritten it a dozen times. :)

    Thanks for the tips on writing great openings.

    1. I appreciate you stopping by and letting us read your opening paragraph.

      Keep writing!

  3. My all-time favorite opening lines are from Nabokov's Lolita...

    Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

    She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

    1. Interesting opening lines, Jeri. Thanks for sharing them.

  4. When I got my first puppy, it was recommended that every time she tried to chew on something, put a "bully stick" in her mouth. She has never chewed on anything she was supposed to and is addicted to her bully sticks. They are not cheap, but a lot less than a pair of shoes!

    1. Thanks for the tip. We have chew toys that we've been using and it does seem to avert his attention to the toy. In time, I hope he grows out of it. Take care.