American Book Review posted a list of the hundred best first lines from novels. While I don’t agree with all of them, and some now seem out of date (does anyone under the age of 25 still know what “the color of television, tuned to a dead channel” was/is?). Still while I may not agree with all of these, it’s a good reminder that the first line does a lot to set the tone of any story you write. What’s your favorite first line?
A very good post today from Mark Evanier on the dangers of getting too attached to work that isn’t yours. This also got me thinking about my own relationship with fan fiction.
When I was younger I did a lot of fan fiction writing. Not the only thing of course, but it was definitely a stepping stone in my process of becoming a better writer. There is some ease in taking characters that aren’t yours and making them into something that is and putting them through their paces, seeing how they react to situations you come up with. I’m not going to say that fan fiction isn’t real writing, because of course it is.
All my fan fiction was done before the Internet was a big thing, so few people ever saw or read it besides myself. Maybe things would have been different if I’d had a wider audience, or maybe not. My fanfic of choice was Star Trek, and I even had some books of collected stories from Trek magazine. Probably still do.
To me, fan fiction of any stripe lets you be creative with a safety net. You already know these people (or think you do). Sure, you can Mary Sue the heck out of someone (and the term itself comes from Star Trek fan fiction), but you don’t become a good writer if you don’t write a lot of bad stuff along the way. But fanfic lets you write something in a familiar universe and explore it in a way you might not otherwise be able to, and that’s an important part of being creative.
Sent off yet another query letter today. In my opinion query letters are the second hardest thing about writing, well, aside from actually starting on writing something. Hit the send button or putting something in the mail also makes me a bit queasy with fear. And unlike regular stage fright which is over in (hopefully) a few hours at most, you get to wait for a few weeks or longer to hear anything back. Still, it’s a good thing, this fearful hope. After all, if you don’t try, you’ll never reach your goals.
This has been a hard year, writing wise, mostly dry. Not for lack of time, just for lack of effort. Need to get my rear in gear and start writing something, anything. After all, a muse doesn’t respond if you ignore it.