The past few months, this one idea has been transforming my business as if by magic. Best business advice? Love the work, love every word you write, love every client (yes, even that client), love every task and challenge and success and setback. Love every invoice, and every payment. Love every time sheet, every tax form, every proposal, every call. And if you can’t find it in your soul to do that, get out of the way and make room for someone who can.
This post by Paula Munier in Jane Friedman’s blog gives some great advice for writers on how to move your reader into the story.
She likens it to using a remote car starter and heated seats before you begin a journey on a cold winter day:
“Every reader starts a story cold, and you want to warm the reader up to your story as quickly as possible,” writes Paula Munier in Jane Friedman’s blog. “You want the reader to slip into a warm seat in a hot story with a blazing beginning and take off for parts known only to you, the writer.”
According to Munier, there are three literary devices that will help you achieve this:
- Start with a scene that introduces your story idea. (Think “Jaws” and how that opening set the story for the book without a scrap of dialogue.)
- Start with the scene that foreshadows the story idea. (Munier gives the example of Sleeping Beauty and the fairy’s curse.)
- Start with the scene that sets up the story idea with action. (Princess Leia hiding the plans for the Death Star in R2-D2 is a classic example.
My favorite piece of advice in this post is “Turn to page 50.” Munier believes that most beginning writers take too long to warm up the story, and it doesn’t usually get going until around page 50 (or about 15,000 words). Turn to page 50, and see what your characters are doing. THIS might be the right place to start for a story that compels your readers to come along.
It’s not enough to think about what you want. That kind of wishful thinking misses the magic entirely.
A friend of mine likes to argue with me about the merits of “thoughts become things.” I see the value of clear, focused intention, and the things I intend often appear seemingly magically. He doesn’t think it’s that “easy.”
I get his objections; things just don’t appear out of nowhere, at least in his world. I believe he’s missing the point, as do many of the folks who poo-poo the idea of intentional thinking and its role in your life.
No, I can’t just close my eyes, dream of a cheeseburger and it shows up in my hand. I can, however, dream of that cheeseburger, and make the focused effort to research the best cheeseburger joints in my county, and then book a table.
Voila. Epic cheeseburger in hand.
The difference is taking inspired action. I don’t just run out and get a fast food burger (although, yeah, sometimes that’s the dream). I imagine what I want, and set about finding just that; not shallow substitutes.
Sometimes this kind of thinking really can be magical. On our honeymoon trip a few years ago, we had a long drive through the Austrian Alps one day. At breakfast, my husband said “I think we should find a place around 3 o’clock to have a beer and drink in the view.”
We talked about the perfect kind of place we hoped to find…a little Swiss chalet nestled between peaks, with some outdoor tables and a friendly barkeep, and barely any other customers (we were deep inside our honeymoon bubble).
The drive was amazing; a new Mozart CD that I’d picked up in Strasbourg provided the perfect soundtrack to the mind-blowing scenery. At 2:59 p.m., we rounded the bend and there is was. THE perfect Alpine beer garden.
There was no wondering “is this the place we should stop?” We just looked at each other, laughed, and pulled in.
The point is this: If we had not put out that clear intention to find a place just like this around 3 p.m., we likely wouldn’t have stopped, instead forging ahead to get to the town where we hoped to find the perfect room for the night (which is another story of intention and manifestation of its own).
We intended to have this experience, and so we did.
Magic? Depends on how you define it.
The key is that you have to go out and make your dreams happen. You must decide what you want. Then you must take action to make it happen. If you dream about visiting the Caribbean, but then turn down your friend’s request to join her on a cruise, you can curse the Universe all you like for not granting your wishes. Or you can say “YES” and end up on a sugar sand beach with your toes in the crystal waters.
Dream big, and act accordingly!