Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Feb 2021’s Great Opening Lines)

I wrote in Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 3 – Some Great Opening Lines) that I’d share more great opening lines as I found them.

It’s been almost a year since I posted some great opening lines. I’ve read some fine books during Covid, none of them with remarkable opening lines, though.

This month, I read three. One’s a reread of a book originally read as a child and recently reread, one’s a book that’s been on my shelf for too many years unread, the third is from a SouthernLit author new to me.
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Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Rivalries.

Well, not quite rivalries so much as territorialities.

They happen in The Wild.

Even when there’s abundant food available.

We noticed similar behavior in humans when we were in business. People swarmed where there was activity, not necessarily where there was abundance.

My inner anthropologist, psychologist, and sociologist kicked in big time when such things occurred. Didn’t matter if there was something demonstrably better over there, over here is where everyone gathered so this, by definition, must be better, even when it obviously wasn’t.

But the business rules and mindsets rarely made sense. Too often people wanted to be in business but continued being avaricious without thinking things through; always short term success superceded long term stability.

Probably why so many companies fold so quickly regardless of their offering’s worthiness.

I can almost understand such stupidity – especially in siloed communities – and do understand it in animals. It’s a survival mechanism.

But it’s not in humans.

And we’re suppose to be smarter.

Yeah, right.

 

Joseph Carrabis On The Importance Of Literature In Modern Society

Roshan Bhodekar, author and publisher of the international, Madrid, Spain-based newspaper, Transcontinental Times, approached me to do an interview.

 
Grateful, yes, and appreciative, definitely, but I’m nothing special. Why interview me?

“Because your writing influences and inspires people. It’s important. Especially in modern society.”

Umm…okay. I don’t think of it that way, and okay.

A month later and with a few back and forths between the reporter assigned the interview and myself, you can read the interview at Joseph Carrabis On The Importance Of Literature In Modern Society.

My proposition is a simple one; you can best educate people if you entertain them. Few people remember high school algebra even a year after graduation because (when I attended high school) it was the most boring class imaginable. (anybody remember that great line from Peggy Sue Got Married regarding high school math?)

But I still remember Mrs. Hudon’s sophomore math class because she made it fun. Synthetic Division, anyone? Solving linear equations, folks?

She had a keen sense of her students and made the class interesting even on hot, muggy days when the windows were open and there wasn’t a breeze to be found.

So entertain your audience. Keep them engaged. Keep them wanting more. Keep them interested in what you’re sharing with them. Ask them questions to get them to ask questions of their own, to you, your work, and each other.

In short, get people to learn by getting them to care. Make your subject important to who they are, who they want to be. Why do most people forget books they’ve read once they’ve closed the cover? Because the book has no meaning to them, it’s a blowoff read. Sometimes such reads provide wonderful mental vacations but a steady diet of them leaves one weak and wanting, me thinks.

Roshan noticed my work affects people – or attempts it – and asked me about it. The interview is the result.

Take a read and enjoy.

And let us know what you think.

Natalie Goldberg’s “Wild Mind”

Natalie Golberg’s Wild Mind is another book I purchased 25-30 years ago and left on my shelf while life happened. I picked it up this month and am grateful I kept it around.

I previously reviewed Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones”, gave it high marks, and Wild Mind is another keeper, although a book I’d only recommend to writers already committed to their craft.

Like Writing Down the Bones and Dorothea Brande’s “Becoming a Writer”, Wild Mind is about the experience of writing and how to make that experience more fluid, dynamic, rewarding, and fruitful. There are some craft do’s and don’t’s at the end of the book and you can find similar do’s and don’t’s in most craft and technique books (and also in many of my StoryCrafting posts).

 
The book itself is a cornucopia of writing exercises designed to make you think differently when you write. Note that; not how to write differently but how to think differently when you write. Goldberg is a stickler for “your work, your style, your voice” and doesn’t want to change that.

Instead she offers exercises to free up your crafting to be more unique, more inventive, more exciting, more readable, and ultimately, more you.

Her forte is what I’d call “Ten Minute Drills.” For example, write “I remember” at the top of a page and spend ten minutes writing about what you remember. Easy enough. Now write “I don’t remember” and go for another ten minutes. Now your mind goes wild (and hopefully your writing follows). What don’t you remember? What have you forgotten? When you’re not walking down memory lane you’re traversing the paths of imagination. Find out where they take you.

Other drills teach you how to tame your inner critic (haven’t met an author yet who doesn’t have one) and how to set free your inner cheerleader (haven’t met an author yet who doesn’t need one).

Good stuff and strongly recommended.

He stands naked in a ditch.

I mentioned back in Four pieces for a workshop I’m taking an online writing course. I’m sharing the exercises from that class in that post, Two Pieces for a Workshop, and in Four (Other) Pieces for a Workshop. This post is from the last class in that series. Here we were given “He stands naked in a ditch.” as a prompt and asked to create an atmospheric flash piece/tone poem from it.

I came up with the following 54 word piece.

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