Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Hi Meg,

Okay, I'm ready to start our conversation about reading like a writer. And what a perfect book we’ve chosen to kick things off with – there will be loads for us to notice, talk about and learn from in Sherman Alexie's book, Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

As we discussed, our goal is to complete our reflections about each book in a month, and then move on to another novel. Chapter by chapter we’ll take turns looking at clues the writer has given us about how to make our own writing stronger. 

Since I won the coin toss I’ll go ahead and plunge in, pointing out something that really rang out to me in the first chapter—something that we, as writers, ought to be conscious of in our own work, and that is this: The all important opening line, and first page--the hook.

“I was born with water on the brain.” I’m pulled right in. As the main character goes on in that first page to describe what it’s like to have “too much grease inside my skull,” I want to know more about the character, about who he is and how he functions. Sarah Davies, literary agent with The Greenhouse says, in her blog, “Start your story strongly so that the reader is grabbed from the beginning.” And Meg, how many first pages sessions have we been to where agents and editors pan someone’s work because the first line was boring and the first page, pale? This novel kicks it into high gear right from the gitgo and is ANYTHING but boring or pale.

Story Sleuths Tip # 1: The first line and first page need to shine, shine, shine and call out to the reader, “Get ready, you’re in for something special.”

Onward to the next chapter!

-- Allyson