Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Insert Pithy First Line Here

It occurs to me that the start of a new blog is much the same as the start of a new novel. There’s a first-page pressure here. You've got to grab the potential reader, faced with roughly a bajillion browsing options, with something engaging and witty right from the get go. But at the same time, you have to devote at least a few words to establishing the context, introducing the characters. It’s a tough needle to thread.

And so in a novel the writer is faced with the challenge of writing a dynamic action-oriented scene that kicks off the story and hooks the reader while subtly working in the basic information. Things about our main character like hair color or height must be sprinkled into the action so the reader can start imagining the scene properly. Someone needs to take note of a few setting markers to help the reader identify the city or magical land or planet. Oh, speaking of which, you may also have to work in the fact that the story set on another planet or in a magical land. And if you’re writing in first person, someone probably needs to refer to the main character by name, just to get that little tidbit out there.

Plus you've got to establish the voice of the narrative and set up expectations for the rest of the story. After all, you can’t really write an opening scene about a kick ass intergalactic demon hunter all done up in leather and snark kicking some creature of the night’s ass and then go on to tell a sweet coming of age tale about a young boy bonding with his father over a week-long fishing trip in the north Georgia mountains.

I vaguely remember learning in an Intro to Marketing class that term there is bait and switch, and it’s generally frowned upon.

It’s a lot for a writer to accomplish on one little first page. In much the same way, as a blogger you've got to take the first post and give the reader some idea of who this Renee Elizabeths person is and what she’s going to be blogging about. If there happen to be three random imaginary friends who will be blogging here as well, it’s not a bad idea to introduce them too. Or at least mention them so they won’t just pop up out of nowhere over the next few posts and confuse the heck out of the readers.

But you can’t just post a bio page and be done with it. You've still got to be interesting enough that those people who landed here by following a link in a random friend of a friend’s tweet or who Googled “how to thread a needle” and got this blog by mistake might take a chance and decide to continue reading.

You should probably strive to keep those friends and writing buddies who've come here on purpose amused as well. And above all, you have to consider that long-suffering husband you've guilted into subscribing, so he doesn't want to gouge his eyes out just to avoid opening the Google reader app on his phone while he’s feeding the baby her breakfast bottle.

Speaking of which, the kids are going to be waking up soon and my day will be officially starting, so I’d best be getting on with things. Welcome. I’m Renee Elizabeths. I’m trying to write a novel and I hope to someday see it published. This is my blog.

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