Words of Wisdom Wednesday

Continuing the tradition started last week, let’s do first sentences from novels!  I like short, intriguing first lines.  Here are my three:

“What does it mean to be good?” Kushiel’s Scion by Jacqueline Carey

“Always at the heart of my life there has been fire.”  Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jordan

“It was an odd-looking vine.” Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind  (Goodkind has a lot of good first sentences, I have to say!)

Your turn!

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Steps to a Story: Struggling

I feel now is a good moment to be honest with you: I’ve been struggling on With Honor.  It’s not that I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I know the story almost in its entirety.  And I’m not exactly blocked.  When I sit down to write, I generally accomplish something.  The main problem is finding the motivation to sit and write, and that trouble is coming from two places.

First, this story is not as insistent as others have been.  Matthew is male, and a soldier.  I am neither of these things, which makes it harder for me to connect to my main character.  He’s also somewhat reserved, so he hasn’t been talking loudly in my head like other characters have, and the plot is mostly action and not a lot of dialog.  Dialog is really the driver for me; I tend to hear the conversations in my head.  It’s harder to hear the flow of fighting or scouting.

Not only is the story less insistent, my life has seen a recent influx in potential distractions.  I’ve been re-arranging my schedule at work somewhat frequently to deal with meetings and holidays.  I went on a trip with my sister, which meant planning and organizing as well as going, and I’m getting ready for another trip soon.  I finally got Netflix – a dangerous acquisition, I have discovered – and made the (probably unwise) decision to re-read Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series.  You can see why it has become a struggle to get my mind to focus on this story!

I think the remedy to this is obvious: I need to set aside a time when I have no choice but to write.  I’ll probably have to leave the apartment to do it, since pets and dirty dishes and laundry become distractions, too.  I like this story.  I want to write it.  Thus, I need to make it a priority.  Hopefully it works.

Should I Be Reading?

When I wrote the first draft of The Queen’s Butterflies, I made it a point to read only non-fiction.  I was trying to solidify my own voice and writing skills, and I wanted to avoid sounding like anyone else.

Now that I am (supposedly) writing the sequel and a short story at the same time, I’m wondering if I should put a similar ban on fiction into effect.  I started re-reading the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind recently.  These are books that suck me in to their world.  I’m not sure how easy it will be to fall back into Diaea and Molva once I start getting wrapped up in the Midlands and the Old World. 

I’ll give it a try for the first book of the series, and if it becomes a problem I’ll switch back to non-fiction.  Going without fantasy is not too big of a deal; I love good non-fiction almost as much as fiction, and it will give me an impetus and reward to finish With Honor and maybe even Butterflies 2.

What’s Wrong With a Happy Ending?

I loved the comments I got last week when part 9 of Burden posted and my readers were excited that Stefan proposed.  It seemed that everyone thought it fit with the plot, that it was a good idea to make it part of a plan, and that it was exciting that the two main characters were getting together.

Thus I was a bit confused at this week’s comments.  The general feeling I got was that readers were glad the couple got together, but it was too fast, too easy.  They are waiting to see where the trouble arises.

While I am going to avoid revealing the rest of Burden (there are 3 more posts left on the story) I would like to take this opportune moment to ask: what’s wrong with a happy ending?

Granted, when the relationship is the plot you can’t have things work out quickly or easily.  When the romance between a couple is a major plot-driver, like Richard and Kahlan in Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule, things have to be difficult.  I swear that pairing was one of the hardest to read – so much of the entire epic series hinged on the two of them having extreme romance issues.  I even understand that using a troubled romance is a good way to set up characters to resolve major plot issues, like Talia and Dirk in Mercedes Lackey’s Heralds of Valdemar trilogy.

If, however, the relationship is simply a subplot, or the characters need to be teamed together anyway, what’s wrong with a good, easy pairing?  It happens all the time in action movies: the main characters male and female work together through the movie with only the occasional sexual tension moments, and then at the end they get together.  Think The Italian Job or National Treasure.  The plot, the conflict, the struggle is in the challenge they are facing – the relationship is just icing on the cake.  I know these are movie examples, but can’t it work like this in books and stories, too?

I am not a flowers and rainbows person when it comes to my stories.  I know that people have to face challenges, characters we like have to die, and things won’t always work out how we hope.  But does everything have to be difficult for a story to be good?  Or can the people we like have things fall right into place once in a while?

Quoting Books

I like quotes, especially from books.  The only problem becomes when I don’t stop to write them down and then can’t find them again when I finish the book.

There is an awesome quote from one of the Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind about not giving up.   The main female character is remembering something told to her by her father about fighting with everything you have.  I think it is in Blood of the Fold but I have not been able to find it again.  (Perhaps this means it is time to re-read the series?)  I had it posted in my room in high school, but lost the ‘poster’ and now can’t re-quote it.  If you know where to find the quote I am referring to (at least book, preferably section/page number), please let me know!!

Another favorite quote is from an out-of-print book called Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jordan.  This one I can find – it was my favorite book for a long time and probably the first real fantasy book I read.  I’ve read it more times than I can remember.  Here is the quote: “‘No matter what happens tomorrow,’ she whispered, ‘they can never take away today.'”

I think favorite quotes change as your life changes.  The Winter of Fire quote was my favorite during junior high, a time when I was tormented and outcast and dreading what every school day would bring.  The Sword of Truth quote was a favorite in high school and college – never give up and keep fighting are appropriate at those ages.  Of course, they are still relevent to my life now.  🙂

My newest quote is from Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Farthest Shore.  It is definitely an adult-type quote, reflective and aware that life is not never-ending.  Here it is:  “And though I came to forget or regret all I have ever done, yet would I remember that once I saw the dragons aloft on the wind at sunset above the western isles; and I would be content.”

What is your favorite book quote?