Tag Archives: novel

1878. The opening sentence

Tamsin knew it was high time she started writing her novel. After all, she had spent eleven years researching it. If anything needed further research she could research it there and then while she was writing the book. Today was definitely going to be the day. Once started the momentum would increase. The pages would pour out like the ooze of oil crushed.

Opening sentences are very important. Tamsin typed out a couple of options. She wasn’t overly enthusiastic about either. She typed out a third option. It wasn’t much better. She needed to think about it. What better way to think about such things than to vacuum the house?

All that the vacuuming did was highlight the dust that had collected on the tops of furniture. She would dust it, but while she was getting a rag from the laundry she put the washing on. “I didn’t realize there was such a backlog of laundry,” thought Tamsin. It was clearly going to end up being a laundry day. She might as well strip the beds. The day was too lovely to waste drying things in a dryer. How much fresher is bed linen dried in the breezy sunshine!

Of course, the dishwasher needed emptying, and while she was at it, she might as well prepare the vegetables for the evening meal. Her husband was picking up a pre-cooked chicken at the supermarket on his way home, so all that was needed were a few vegies to go with it. Would you believe? She was out of potatoes. She would have to pop down town to get some spuds. She texted her husband to say “Don’t bother getting a chicken on the way home” and then set out for town.

It was while in the confectionary section that she bumped into Monica. They hadn’t seen each other for a month or so, so it was good to catch up.

Back home, Tamsin peeled the potatoes. All that was needed was a sprig of mint. Oh dear! That section of the garden needed a quick weed.

When all was done, it came to her. Tamsin sat down and typed out the opening sentence of her novel. She was well pleased.

1874. Outside a thrush was singing

Iseult was a novelist. She wrote horror, fantasy and science fiction.

It was raining outside. It was one of those sun-shower days that make you understand why Ireland is called “The Emerald Isle”. The green was translucent.

Iseult gazed out the window. She had been stuck on a sentence for two days now. “Herman raised the axe”. Iseult knew she couldn’t kill off Aoibhinn, the heroine, so early in the novel. It was after all only page 19.

“Herman raised the axe.” What comes next? How could Aoibhinn escape this inevitable fate? Does she bend down to pat the dog and thus escape the plunging axe head? No! No! It’s all too predictable. Simply bending to pat a dog and escaping murder is so gauche. Maybe Iseult had made a mistake modelling Herman on the guy who comes to mow her lawns – he was too much an unexciting character. His personality didn’t advance the plot.

Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain. Now there’s a sentence, thought Iseult. “Herman raised the axe. Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain.”

Iseult typed the new sentence. At least she was one sentence further on. It’s fun, she thought, that what I type is actually happening! Outside the window a thrush was singing…

Herman raised the axe. Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain. Iseult bent down to pat the dog.

(The real Iseult blogs HERE. There she reviews many a book. Her own novel – “7 Days in Hell” – is available on Amazon. Sometime ago, in the comments on my blog, Iseult expressed a mild desire to be a “victim” in one of my stories! Hence today’s gentle, though callous, plot.)

1795. Future classroom dialogue – c. 2162 CE

Student: Excuse me Miss. Do we really have to study this?

Ms. Honeybun: Yes, Zenith. It’s written by a great writer. It will stretch your imagination. It will open your eyes to possibilities.

Student: But we have already studied his novel and poems, and now we’re expected to study his short stories. Why can’t we study someone interesting, like Shakespeare or Emily Bronte or Thorkel X. Kaftan. (Note: Thorkel X. Kaftan didn’t appear on the literary scene until around 2098 CE).

Ms. Honeybun: Shakespeare is so very yesterday and greatly overrated. In my opinion we are studying the greatest writer since Euripides.

Student: But Euripides wrote plays. This stupid idiot didn’t write plays.

Ms. Honeybun: He’s not a stupid idiot, Zenith. And oh yes, he did write plays. His plays are the next thing on the syllabus we will be studying.

Student: I hate having things shoved down my throat.

Ms. Honeybun: When you are older you will thank me for having so forcibly introduced you to this lustrous author. Euripides and Bruce Goodman are undoubtedly the two greatest writers in the history of the world.

Second Student: Speaking on behalf of the rest of the class, we simply adore what you are teaching us, Miss Honeybun.

Ms. Honeybun: Thank you, Echinacea. I’m glad most of the class recognize greatness when they see it. Now could you please all turn to Story 1795: Future classroom dialogue.

Footnote: See the links at the top of the blog page!

1770. That’s how you do it

Neville was destined to become a famous novelist. Thus far he hadn’t had anything published. In fact he hadn’t quite finished his first novel. It needed tweaking. There was a reason for his not having finished.

Neville became so attached to his characters that he refused to kill any of them off. Thus the pages of his masterpiece gathered more and more characters. They overcrowded the pages. If they had existed outside the novel, and lived in the same house, there would be one hell of a queue outside the bathroom.

Honestly, by the time he got down to the fourth generation he should have killed great grandpa off. But no! Great grandpa was arthritic and senile and very much alive.

Eventually he submitted his tome to an editor.

“There are too many characters,” the editor said. “Kill some of them off. It’s easy; just cross a few out. That’s how you do it.”

“I know, I know,” said Neville. He left the editor’s office with a heavy heart. He began the long walk home. Who to kill off? And how?

He was so engrossed and desolate that he failed to notice where he was going and got run over by a truck.

That’s how you do it.

1675. Almost published!

For some reason Charlie had always imagined he’d be a successful novelist. Such a dream was surely about to come true. His first novel had been accepted by a major publishing company. For over a year the manuscript had been edited, honed, changed, amended, corrected, revised, rewritten, modified, improved, refined, sharpened, perfected, enhanced, polished, altered, transformed, adjusted, brushed up, gone over, read aloud, examined microscopically, and had removed from its pages all possible accusations of racism, sexism, and xenophobia. In fact, Charles reckoned he could hardly recognize the original.

He didn’t like the finished product much. It had had the stuffing knocked out of it.

On his final visit to the publisher Charlie was told that the novel lacked panache and it was no longer going to be published. It simply wouldn’t sell. Charlie told them to shove it. He went home and wrote a poem.

1547. Book worm

(The closing sentence for this story was suggested by Chris Nelson of chrisnelson61. If you want to join in the fun of suggesting a future closing sentence for these stories, click here for a peek as to what’s what. Try not to read the closing sentence until you’ve read the story!)

Raymond had three children, two boys and a girl. He was immensely proud of his two sons. They had done so well at school, especially on the sports field. Now that they were old enough to leave school they were as keen as mustard to get jobs. In fact, Jared had already been accepted for a job on the railways.

The daughter, Annette, was another kettle of fish altogether. She was a book worm. “Get your head out of those books and start doing something useful. Reading books won’t earn you money.” It was Raymond’s favourite axe to grind.

“That lazy girl is not going to go far living in fantasyland in her books. This morning I had to physically force her to slam the book shut and start peeling the potatoes for tonight’s dinner. We’ve got a house to run.”

And indeed, Annette had been engrossed in the book. She had only a few pages to go. Ellen, the narrator, had moved to Wuthering Heights soon after Lockwood had left to replace the housekeeper who had departed. In March, Hareton had had an accident and been confined to the farmhouse. During this time, a friendship had developed between Cathy and Hareton. This continues into April when Heathcliff begins to act very strangely, seeing visions of Catherine. After not eating for four days, he is…

Annette left her novel to peel the potatoes. Why was her father so demanding; almost to the point of cruelity? Why couldn’t he let her finish when she was almost at the end?

After half an hour of dinner preparation, Annette returned to her novel. Only then did she notice that the last page was missing.

1409. Going! Going! Wait!

You wouldn’t believe the excitement! It had not been long since Abram had finished his first novel. It was called “Going! Going! Wait!” He had boasted about it online and then… WHAM! … a message came from a publisher:

WE WOULD BE INTERESTED IN HAVING A LOOK AT IT.

“I guess I just struck it lucky,” said Abram.

He sent a copy off to the publisher immediately, and waited…

…and waited …and waited. They never replied. He never heard back.

“I guess it’s not going to get published,” said Abram.

But what Abram didn’t know was that it had been published. It had been translated into Chinese under a different author and name – along with thousands of other Western novels. The “publisher” made a pretty penny, and still does to this day.

1157. Finbarr’s novel

Finbarr was quite upset; a film star had been badly injured doing a stunt. Finbarr had always imagined that particular actor as taking the lead part in the film they would make using his novel as a basis.

Finbarr hadn’t started the novel yet as such, but he had a few ideas. He could actually see in his mind’s eye the credits at the end of the movie rolling over the big screen. Of course, everyone in the theatre would usually be standing and walking out by now – during the credits – but in this case they were so moved they remained seated. When the credits finished the audience applauded. That was not that common an occurrence. Clearly they were emotional. Who wouldn’t be after such a gruelling two hours of intense emotion?

It was therefore extremely disappointing to read of the film star’s stunt accident. Of course, there were other actors, but they wouldn’t do as good a job.

There were further problems blighting Finbarr’s plans for a novel: who would play the female lead? The actress he wanted initially was now too old. Of course, they could dolly her up a bit with modern technology but it’s not the same. And then they had plundered the forest for timber, which he had thought would have been the perfect setting for the film.

A final upsetting thing was that Finbarr would have preferred it if the scene used during the final credits had been filmed from a circling helicopter. Filming the final view from a high hill with a telescopic lens was not really the right thing to do.

Problems! Problems! Finbarr was back to square one with his novel writing.

1152. Romance reader

Jonathan was nineteen years old and loved to read popular romances. He particularly liked the swashbuckling heroes who rescued the damsels in distress. Then they would fall in love and get married and live happily ever after. Why settle for dark, morose characters when a rumbustious champion could conquer the world? Of course, he never told his friends that he read romances.

It wasn’t silly for Jonathan to think he could be like that. There must surely be some bravery in the world, and some zealous ardour to go with it. All he need do was find the right girl and the right situation.

Anyway, he went to the First World War and got shot.

1129. True recognition at last!

Stanislaus had heard (why do people keep things so close to their chest?) that he had been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. With fifteen plays under his belt, four novels, and over three hundred poems he thought it wasn’t before time! And surely he stood a chance.

To be truthful he had already prepared his acceptance speech. It was full of witticism and wise adages. It was quite critical in parts, especially of publishers. He’d never been able to find one who would accept him for publication.