Sunday, March 9, 2014

The First Paragraph Wall

Ana has something in common with a great writer

Gabriel Garcia Marquez said, "One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily. In the first paragraph you solve most of the problems with your book. The theme is defined, the style, the tone. At least in my case, the first paragraph is a kind of sample of what the rest of the book is going to be."

His mind has to be developing the rest of the story as he labors over the opening paragraph. 

I seem to write pages and pages that ultimately need to be hacked away until I find where the story starts. But I definitely need to get the opening "right" before I can go forward. I view this as a handicap, but at least one great author seems to understand. 

Marquez also said: "Ultimately literature is nothing but carpentry. Both are very hard work. Writing something is almost as hard as making a table. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood. Both are full of tricks and techniques. Basically very little magic and a lot of hard work involved."


  1. Most times, the opening of a story has jumped out at me, and I've stayed with my original openings.
    The only one I've had problems with is my current WIP - but then that story has given me more problems than all my other novels put together! I've lost count now of how many times I've changed it and started rewriting!

  2. An opening is so important in grabbing your readers. I've been in more critiquing sessions than I can count where one of the first comments is, "You've started your story in the wrong should actually start here."

    And sometimes we all need a little helping figuring out where 'here' is!

  3. I am getting better at finding the opening, Debra. Practice, reading and critiquing, I think. And a little help from my friends.

    I wish openings would jump out in front of me, Paula. Endings do, but not beginnings.

  4. I also have trouble with my openings. I think because we have the story in our head and we write what we think. But often times, the story doesn't actually start at our beginning. For me, I find it easier to just write everything down and then go back and fix during edits. But everyone is different and that method doesn't always work for everyone.