Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You Know You're A Writer If...

You cannot read a book without your red pen in hand.

You troll the bookstores looking for your friends' books so you can rearrange them with the covers facing out.

You troll the bookstores looking for your friends' books so you can stick them, facing out, in front of Valerie Bertinelli's, Paris Hilton's, or Pamela Anderson's books. 

You cannot watch a movie without identifying, out loud (very loud), inciting incident, plot points one and two, climax and dark moment.

You laugh out loud while reading "Twilight".

Every time you step out of the house, people on the street become your potential novel characters.

You travel everywhere with a little notepad and pen.

You excuse yourself in the middle of dinner dates to run to the bathroom and jot down brilliant bits of dialogue that pop into your head. (And bring a napkin with you because you can't fit your notepad into your adorable little bitty purse)

Sometimes when people talk to you, you pretend to listen while you are actually working out a difficult scene from your novel in a thought bubble over his/her head.  (See "dinner date" above)

"Aha!" moments hit you in the middle of the night and wake you up out of dead sleep.

You read out loud to your dog to get confirmation that your prose is working.

You cringe when people use "me" instead of "I" or "I" instead of "me".  Me hate that!

You proofread all text messages before pressing "send".

You proofread all incoming text messages and send them back to recipients after editing.

You cannot read ANYTHING (magazines, letters, thank you notes, dog groomer bills) without becoming appalled at the lack of knowledge people have about spelling and grammar.  Did nobody pay attention in elementary school??

When it's a pretty day outside, your internal voice describes it in beautiful literary prose over and over until it gets the description just right.

You have an internal voice.

Potential book titles run through your head all day long.  And when you get home you "google" those titles to see if they exist yet.

You are obsessed with stalking your mail carrier or hitting "refresh" on your email screen.

You kiss your manuscripts "goodbye" before sending.  (Oh! I the only freak who does this??)

Above list written and copyrighted by Eve A. Porinchak.  (You "copyright" everything you write, even though you don't know what exactly "copyright" means.)

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Once Upon A Time...

"It was a dark and stormy night."

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

"If you really want to hear about it, you'll probably want to know where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like."

"Call me Ishmael."

What is it about famous opening lines that makes them, well, famous?  I heard somewhere that authors have about 8 seconds to grab a reader.  I read slowly, so that only gives authors a sentence or two to hook me.  That's it! 

So, here's my thing.  I am having the hardest time creating an opening for my new novel.  My first novel, Ring of Fire, poured out of me so easily and the first lines came to me the second the premise popped into my head.  That story is about 14-year-old "Bear", a tough inner city kid whose loving family and perfect life are shattered after a string of tragedies.  After his anger gets him arrested, he is sent to a mountain summer camp for disadvantaged youth, where he is challenged to stay out of trouble.  According to his probation terms, if he violates camp's Three Strikes policy, he will be removed from camp and sent to jail.  The opening lines read:

"A wad of slime slaps me in the neck as I step off the bus.  My heart pounds and my hands sweat as I prepare to stomp the fool who spit on me, but it's impossible to tell who did it in this mess of sweaty kids, so I let it go."

I felt like opening this YA book with action was appropriate since it is in part an adventure story.  But, more importantly, I wanted to immediately show that Bear is a kid who has been "spat upon" repeatedly by bad luck that was beyond his control.  Internally, he reacts to being spit on, but he has never been the type of kid who fights back.  Eventually, though, that misdirected anger will come out and ultimately become a major theme in the book. 

So, back to my problem.  My new novel, Fall, is a contemporary YA romance that could be described as "Love Story" meets "Yes Man" meets "A Beautiful Mind."  Can you picture it?  Okay, good.  I've started and restarted this novel 100 different ways, and I'm still not satisfied.  Do I start with action?  A quote?  Dialogue?  A metaphorical description?  The story is somewhat moody and philosophical, yet also funny at times.  But deep down, it's a simple love story about two people who cannot live without one another.  Should the opening lines suggest that it's a love story?  Or focus on the character and her problem?

Oh, and I am submitting the beginning chapters to the Big Sur March workshop.  And they are due this WEDNESDAY.  Gulp.  Help!

Thanks for reading.  And thank you in advance for any advice you can offer me!