Thursday, 2 May 2013

Beginnings include the legacy of endings

That's the new opening line to a short story about relationships I submitted to the Bath competition. Well I think it is.

I do sincerely congratulate those on the longlist published at 10am last Saturday. I have to confess that at 10.02am, windswept and freezing overlooking Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast and scanning the website on my iPhone, my sincerity would have been questionable.

After a 13 mile hilly walk and cider tasting in a local pub, I had much better perspective.

I turned to the judges' comments and other posts about why you are not a loser for not being longlisted.

Despite many, many rounds of drafting, feedback, submitting, redrafting, I realised that my story, in fact most of my stories, lack 'the hook' in the opening paragraphs.

Yesterday I mentioned this to a friend who is very familiar with my work. She thought for a moment, then said that my openings always set a tone that suits the story. That I might not necessarily grab the reader's attention, but I do create a sense of intrigue or tension that is compelling in its own way.

What I heard was that she didn't disagree.

As an exercise to test my openings, I've taken several stories out of my 'FINAL' folder and I'm working up a new 400 word opening for them. The Words With Jam First Page competition closes on 31st May, and I'm using that as motivation for this task.

It feels like an apt metaphor for a lot more than just relationships. Beginnings include the legacy of endings.

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