Feb 25, 2012

How do I begin . . .

By Bonnie Harris

Let me start out and say that the ANWA Conference has been incredible this far. I have enjoyed every class I've taken and have learned so much from everyone around. Thank you to all who have worked so hard to put it together.

Since I'm still in the middle of it, I'm having trouble figuring out what exactly to share. (Imagine Pooh Bear sitting on his log, tapping his head saying, "Think. Think. Think." That's what I'm doing right now.)

OK. Lisa Mangum gave a class on starting your story with a bang. We all want to do that. We've all been told how vitally important the first line of our book is. Here's what she had to say . . .

The Harsh Truth

  • Editors care so much about the first line of a manuscript, they will make the decision to buy or pass on a project based solely on that single first line
  • Therefore, your first sentence ought to be the single greatest thing you ever write in your entire life.

Are you sweating yet? Do you feel the pressure? Are you scared?


It's all a lie!

There are so many other things that editors look at. (I admit, my breath stopped in my throat as she went on with this and then you could hear a collective sigh when she said it was a lie.) This is what she said you do need.

1. Start with a prologue if your story needs it
2. Showcase something special on the first page
3. Review your first page after you've written your last page
4. Look at your whole book
5. Pay attention to everything on your first page

The big thing Lisa hit on was to give yourself permission to move onto the second sentence and the third and so on.

There. You now have permission to move past the first sentence. Now, get writing!


  1. Awesome! Thanks for sharing that, Bonnie! Have fun!

  2. The conference was wonderful. A lot of people did a lot of work. I learned a lot.

    I appreciated Lisa Mangum's class; it is nice to know how editors evaluate a manuscript.


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