Saturday, June 12, 2010

First Lines and Research

I know I've blogged about these topics before, but here I am again . . .

I wrote my first lines for my new manuscript this afternoon. They're down. Until they aren't. But right now, I like 'em. They're a bit dark. A bit gloomy. A bit on the horror side of suspense.

The urge to write more because of my first lines bodes well that a reader will have the urge to read more. I'm happy.

But I've come to a screeching halt because I know I need to get some more research under my belt. It's important that I know the subjects involved in my scene not so I can regurgitate facts in an information dump, but so I can flavor my scene with authenticity. And that means I need to know A LOT, not just a little.

This story is calling out for me to write it. And man, I'm tempted just to go and go and go. But this story is also calling out for me to get it right. So for the rest of the afternoon, and maybe weekend, I'm sinking my teeth into research.

How do you do your research? At the end, like Stephen King? As you go? Or do you get a good deal done before you begin?

Oh, and . . . do you like the new look to the blog? I'm thinking one thing it clearly says is that the spines of books are spaces meant to be used. Kind of like Nate designing a minuscule apartment. Plan well, and wonderful things can be accomplished in a limited space.

CR: On Edge by Barbara Fister.

It's all better with friends.


  1. First lines are tough and I seldom stick with the one I start with. As to research, I tend to do it as I go. sometimes makes for a disjointed rough draft but, as Randy Ingermanson says, "I can fix it in the next draft."
    Oh, and I do like your new look. Clean lines and easy to navigate.

  2. Thanks, Other Peg. It feels a little busy to my at the moment, but maybe I'll get over it.

    My goal with this one is to try and limit my drafts. Not sure that's gonna happen, but it's a thought . . .

    And this is a bit weird . . . even though I'm writing a contemporary romantic suspense, it would be nice to know how Indians in the area buried their dead 150 years ago.

    The "finished" ms I'm shopping agents with has gone through a myriad of opening lines. Opening scenes. Opening POVs. I've shifted and twisted and turned inside out that first moment of exposure so many times it's hard to even remember what I started with.

    And, to tell the truth, this is actually my second opening idea of this ms. My cps, and sister, all rightly plowed my first attempt under. That's for another post . . .

  3. I just realized you're using one of the new design templates. I don't know if I want to do any changing right now. I kinda like the way mine is just fine. :)
    Sips 'n Cups Cafe

  4. I like anything that showcases books personally!

    Once I start a first draft, I don't let anything distract me. So if I have to make it up, I will. I try to get familiar with any topic I know will wind up in the story before sitting down to write, but since stuff inevitably surprises me, there's lots of fact checking to do in second draft mode.

    But hey, anything that works. I could imagine you feeling more confident and ready to proceed armed with a certain amount of concrete knowledge.

    PS: Woo hoo!! A second book!

  5. Thanks for the woo hoo. It's actually more than a second book, but a second one that doesn't suck. (knock wood) That works. *wink*

    Once I get the basic "grasp" of my topic, and feel comfortable that my concept will work, I tend to write and simply make a note in the ms of facts I need to check. But this topic is such a huge part of what this book is about (HRD dogs) I need to immerse myself at least up to my elbows in facts.

  6. I was tempted to play with the new design feature too but somehow restrained myself. Still feeling a little twitchy though.

    I love, love, love that new opening. When I read it in my e-mail this morning, it sucked my face a foot closer to the screen. Keep writing like that, Peg!