What Is The Best Opening To A Novel?

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I thought in this season of spring, the time of renewal and new beginnings, I would ask a simple, but difficult, question: what do you consider the best opening of a novel to be?

For me, the absolute best beginning is from Charles Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way– in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

So, I ask all of you: what do you consider the best beginning of a novel to be?

Who Is Your Favorite Fictional Mother?

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In continuing this series about favorite characters, I wanted to turn to fictional mothers.  Obviously mothers are one of the most crucial parts of most families, and that is not different in literature, television, and film.

When thinking about this question, I considered many possible choices, but I decided that my favorite fictional mother is also from a book series that I love — Lily Potter from the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling.

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While we often see or read about Lily Potter in terms of what she did instead of directly, her actions to save the infant Harry Potter from Voldemort’s attacks reaches the level of heroism. She sacrifices her life in order to save her child. This action sets in motion much of the rest of the books in the series.

She is, indeed, a loving, powerful, and heroic mother.  Without her actions, Harry Potter would not have lived to become a student at Hogwart’s School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry.

So, I ask all of you: who is your favorite fictional mother?

Quotations on Questioning

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“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”

                                                                       Albert Einstein

 

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“He explained to me with great insistence that every question possessed a power that did not lie in the answer.”

                                                                     Elie Wiesel

 

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“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

                                                                   Socrates

 

Biography Sheets For Characters?

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This is a question for all the writers of fiction who follow my blog or who might read it: do you use biography sheets for characters when you are writing a novel? Using such a sheet, and filling it in with minute detail is something that I do, and something that I learned first from being an actor, when I did this exercise to help to build a character, and then as a director, when I assigned the task to actors.

I realize that I create details that I will probably never use in the actual writing of the novel, but the more I know about the characters, the more easily and effectively I can write about them and help to bring them to life.

When I mention minute detail, such an example would be answering this kind of question: does the character prefer coffee or tea, and how do they take it? Or, do they eat eggs for breakfast, and if so, what is their preferred way–perhaps over easy, scrambled, or poached.

So, I ask you–do you use character biography sheets when you build a character?

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The Joy Of Reading

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I have spent the majority of my time on this blog writing about writing, so I thought I would address the most fundamental and most important part of this experience with books: reading.

I have been reading my entire life; in fact, I cannot remember a time when I did not read. And reading has informed my life in many ways, not only in terms of career but also in the joys of life itself.

I read books, I teach them, and I write about them, but mostly, I enjoy them. I remember my mother telling me when I was very little that you can go many places that you might not ever have a chance to visit, real and made up, if you read. And I have visited and continue to journey to real and fantastic lands.

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I am not a reading snob. While I teach college English Literature, I read in a very wide range, from adventure and horror to drama and so-called high literature, although I am not so certain that this distinction is accurate. Both Shakespeare and Dickens were considered popular writers in their time. Hemingway straddled the mythical fence of literature and genre writing. Today, I happily read authors in a multitude of genres, including Stephen King and John Connolly, among many others. So, I read whatever I choose, in any area. And I get great pleasure from the reading.

I am currently reading, as I often do, several books: Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres; Death In A Strange Country by Donna Leon; and Pale Hecate’s Team by K. M. Briggs.

I hope that all people can experience this pleasure of reading. I realize not everyone will, but I can keep hoping they do.

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Happy Reading!

And a quick question: what is a book you are currently reading?

 

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

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Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

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My radio interview:

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Available on Amazon

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Available on Amazon

 

Who Is Your Favorite Magical Character?

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I am beginning a new series for this blog today about favorite characters.  I will begin with magical/mystical characters, but the one requirement for these choices is that they are from books or poetry or drama–some kind of writing.

When I ask who is your favorite magical/mystical character, I mean specifically any character who can perform magic, not simply someone who appears in a magical world.

For me, this is very difficult, because I have so many from which I can choose; among them are Merlin from Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory, Prospero from The Tempest by Shakespeare, Harry Potter and Dumbledore from The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, and Gandalf from The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. I am sure I am forgetting some, but I will make a choice, and my favorite magical character is Gandalf!

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So,  I ask all of you: who is your favorite magical/mystical character?

What Is One Of Your Favorite Holiday Movies?

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I have been writing a few blogposts about favorite Christmas movies, and I have been wondering about what films the rest of you like.  There are so many to choose from, but please let me know what you look forward to seeing the most.

So, I ask: what is one of your favorite holiday movies?

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Happy Thanksgiving — 2019 — For What Are You Grateful?

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Please remember to recognize the positives and the blessings in your lives.

Enjoy your feasts, your gatherings, and your traditions. And please remember to give thanks to those who help us in many ways. So many are away from home, friends, and family, and we should all give them a moment of thanks.

Please try to remember those who are less fortunate, and try to find some kindness and to continue to spread it throughout the year.

To my friends, including my many blogging friends, and family, –thank you!

I would also like to ask all of you:  For what are you thankful?

Happy Thanksgiving!

With What Do You Write?

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I have written posts in the past asking questions such as — where do you write and when do you write?  I thought it was time to ask another such writing question.

With what do you write?  What is your favorite instrument? Is it a computer, a pen, or even a phone?

When I create a first draft, I use a pen and legal pad, because I find it allows my mind and imagination to engage in ways that does not happen at the keyboard. I am not saying this is the best way, only that it is my way. I realize that I may be old-fashioned, indeed, a dinosaur with this approach.

When I revise, however, I use the computer. Revision is a different writing task from drafting, and I need to then take my legal pads and transfer that information in draft 2 to a Word doc.

So, I am curious: with what do you write?

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Quotations on Questions

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“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important  thing is not to stop questioning.”

                                                          Albert Einstein

 

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“. . . re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

                                                              Walt Whitman

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“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

                              Socrates

 

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“The purpose of education should not be the accumulation of facts but the gaining of the ability to question everything.”

                                                            Charles F. French