Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Every Line is a First Line

If you’re not a writer you may not understand the thrill of going to a writer’s conference. It’s a heady experience. Everyone there loves what you love. Everyone there is focused on improvement. There is a strong sense of community, and everyone wants you to succeed.

When I go to a writer’s conference my senses are heightened. My skill enhanced. New ideas are everywhere.

Once in a while, I hear something that changes everything for me. An epiphany. A paradigm shift. That happened for me at WIFYR when I heard these words. “Every line is a first line. Every line is the first line of the rest of your book.”

As a picture book writer I am used to weighing words, but this thought brings it to another level. Is this sentence a good first line for the rest of my book?

Every sentence in a picture book is prime property. Every sentence costs me something. Every sentence must pay rent. No matter how much I love the words, if they don’t move the story forward in a meaningful way they have to go. Eviction.

I have nothing against welfare. Maybe in a novel, some sentences can live for free. Not all, of course, but some. In the world of picture books however, there is no free lunch.

Every line is the first line of the rest of your book.

Linda Garner

No comments: