A little while ago, I shared with you the first few paragraphs of my novel. But these we’re always the first few paragraphs.
Contrary to what might be the common misconception, novels aren’t finished when you type ‘the end’ at the end of a first draft. This is a big accomplishment, nonetheless, but it is in no way ‘finishing a book;’ it is simply getting over one of the bigger hurdles to accomplishing this lofty ambition. When I finished writing a first draft, I was exhausted, but exalted. But then, I went back to work. One thing that I worked on, in particular, was crafting this opening.
“I remember when I used to think people our age were adults. I remember when I used to look up to my father. Now I’m taller than him.”
I had this line in my head for some time before even starting the novel, like a seed. But the line was never exactly like this. Sometimes it was ‘dad’ and sometimes it was ‘father.’ sometimes it was all one sentence, sometimes two, and sometimes three. It needed to not be too long, nor too short, (landing somewhere in-between the 141 words of the first line of A Tale of Two Cities and the three of Moby Dick. I wrote and re-rote this one small paragraph over and over in my mind, trying to get each syllable right; trying to get the perfect combination of intrigue and humor intertwined with the perfect cadence, so every tap of the tongue lands just right.
My favorite paragraph of the novel, currently the second paragraph, actually started out as the closer to the opening chapter; but I moved it up as I changed it. It’s a process, and a process of editing and changing, until everything is as good as I can make it. And that’s precisely what this little post is about, change. Change is normal, change is good, and change should be encouraged. That’s life, and that’s writing.