Tag Archives: tutorial

Beginning A Story

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CinderellaMany writers start their stories before the interesting part.  Way before. So instead of beginning with something intriguing, the author walls for a few paragraphs or chapters, which causes the story to slow down.  This is a particular damaging mistake when you’re planning to send out material for publication.  Anything that causes an editor’s attention to wilt is a bad thing.

Let’s say you’re writing a story about Cinderella.  Here you have a vulnerable young woman whose step family mistreats her.  She longs for love, escape of a good time, depending on how you want to write the story.  What should your opening paragraph say?  Where are you going to begin?

You might decide to start with a bang and have the fairly godmother arrive in the opening paragraph. “Who is that beautiful creature” Cinderella cried out. She stared in awe at the vision in front of her.  This sort of opening  paragraph is the literary equivalent of shouting to the reader that she’s about to read an interesting story.  Later in the story you’ll explain who Cinderella is and why we should care.  For now, in this type of opening paragraph you’re just grabbing attention.

You might prefer to start the story a little earlier in Cinderella’s day, before the fairy godmother gets there. Perhaps when Cinderella is going about her chores.  Cinderella winced as she scrubbed the floor for the 50th time.  This sort of opening paragraph intrigues the reader with Cinderella’s character.  Why does she have so much work? What sort of person is she that she’s not complaining? The reader suspects, from reading an opening like this, that something is going to happen that will disrupt Cinderella’s day.

Where writers go wrong is in starting the story much, much earlier in Cinderella’s day around the time Cinderella wakes up.  Cinderella opened her eyes. She listened to the birds. She got out of bed and brushed her teeth.  She hoped it would be a good day. She flossed.  This does not intrigue me.  I don’t have a hint of what the plot’s going to be. Since waking up is something I do every day, so far. I’m not that excited that Cinderella’s doing it. Worst of all is that because so many writers start with someone waking up, it becomes just another waking-up story to me.  Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. Prouse comes to mind.  But if your story starts with someone waking up in bed, trying cutting out the first three paragraphs.  See how the story reads then. Chopping out the beginning almost always improves the story.

I know I’m guilty of starting the story at the very beginning. She got out of bed with her feet sinking into the soft carpet. I believe it has to do the inexperience of writing a story. I know that the majority of us, when talking to someone telling them about an event, we start at the beginning. Maybe they’d appreciate us beginning a little later in the tale so we wouldn’t be so long winded.

<div style=”font-size: 8px;”>Original by Susan Breen</div>

 

Words Beginning With For- and Fore-

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writingHello everyone, this morning I am posting from Daily Writing tips about some common problem words. Have a great weekend and blessings to all.
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English has several words that begin with the prefixes for- and fore- Sometimes the prefix means “before” or “in front of.” Sometimes it means “outside,” a meaning derived from an Old French element related to modern French hors, as in the French borrowing hors d’oeuvre, “outside the main course.”

Perhaps the most frequently misspelled of this category is the word found at the beginning of many books: Foreword.

A book’s foreword is a preface, a brief essay not necessarily essential for the understanding of the text of a book and commonly written by someone other than the author of the text. Confusion arises from the existence of the adjective forward.

As an adjective, forward is used to describe something that is in front of or ahead of something else. On a ship, things located towards the front are said to be forward, for example, the “forward hold.” A “forward child” in a positive sense is a clever child, precocious for its years. In a negative sense, a “forward child” is like the ones on television who exchange quips, insults, and double entendres with adults; again, the sense is that the child is ahead of its years.

The three verbs forecast, foretell, and foresee all mean “to predict” or “to prophesy,” but have different connotations:

The weatherman forecast showers for Monday. (prediction based on analysis of data)
The gypsy foretold Gwen’s marriage to a rancher. (prediction based on mysterious knowledge)
Harold’s business experience enabled him to foresee the consequences of his partner’s decision. (prediction based on personal experience)

Some other verbs beginning with fore- in which the sense is “happening before” are:

forebode: to announce beforehand.
Forebode and forbid come from OE verbs with similar meanings. Forbid now means “to command a person not to do something.” Forebode means to announce ahead of time. The word forbode carries a connotation of dread, for example, “Vanishing act of middle class forebodes turbulent time.”

The verb bode, on the other hand, means simply “to predict” or “to give promise of something” and may be used in either a positive or a negative context:
Stephen Colbert’s Super-Charming ‘Late Show’ Appearance Bodes Well for His New Gig.
Scottish independence does not bode well for its economy

foreordain: to determine in advance.
“His hostility drives the drama in the first act, and his frenetic dancing in the second makes his demise seem foreordained.”

forewarn: to warn or caution in advance.
This quotation from Charles Kingsley has become a proverb: “To be forewarned is to be forearmed,” (i.e., knowledge of what is about to happen is like having a weapon with which to defend yourself).

In the following nouns the prefix has the sense of “before”:

forelock: A lock of hair growing from the fore part of the head, just above the forehead.
In old novels you’ll find references to farm workers and other social inferiors touching or tugging their forelocks to show respect to their superiors: “There was plenty of bobbing from the girls and pulling of forelocks from the boys.” The expression “to take opportunity by the forelock” means to take advantage of a situation as aggressively as possible: “He seized opportunity by the forelock and secured the best aid possible in his business…”

forefather: an ancestor, one who has come before.

foresight: The action or faculty of foreseeing what must happen. For example, “[Jacob Little] had unusual foresight, which at times seemed to amount to prescience.”

In the following verbs, the prefix is from the French borrowing that meant “outside”:

forbear: to abstain or refrain from
“The defendants were asked to forbear to arrest Mr. Swift.”

forswear: to swear falsely; to abandon or renounce
“As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjured everywhere.” –A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I, i, 240-241.

forfeit: to lose the right to; give up
“The execution of a murderer does not violate his right to life, because he forfeited that right when he committed a murder.” –John Locke

forget: to lose remembrance of

forgive: to give up resentment

forsake: to give up, renounce

foreclose: to preclude, hinder, or prohibit (a person) from (an action). Although spelled fore-, the prefix in foreclose has the “out” meaning, as in “to shut out.”

Finally, there are two words that look almost alike, but have quite different origins:

forebear (noun): An ancestor, forefather, progenitor (usually more remote than a grandfather).
This noun is formed from the prefix fore- (before) and an old word, beer. This beer has nothing to do with the beverage. Instead, it comes from the verb to be. A be-er is one who exists. A forebear existed before you did.

forbear (verb): to abstain or refrain from something.
“Woman, forbear that weeping!”

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