Once More Into the Breech (Brian Katcher)

I hate writing the beginning of a book. I mean, I know what the characters are going to do, I know where they're going to end up, but how to you spark that reader interest with that classic first sentence?

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

Call me Ishmael.

Congratulations on your purchase of a GE Icemaster 2000 Refrigerator.

And how often do we truly actually begin a book? We're always writing and editing and copy editing and and calling the bondsman, but how many times are we sitting at that computer with a blank screen, ready to hit that first key?  Seriously, how often? The last ten years are kind of an indistinct blur to me.

I told my daughter the other day that I'd wanted to write a book about two twins, a guy and a girl, named Despair and Agony. I'd never thought of any sort of plot or character development; I just liked the names. Within an hour, she'd plotted out an entire story, which she'll probably write. I gave her possession of those names with my blessing. 

And today on NPR I heard this Kenyan writer who got arrested for pissing off the government and had to write his next novel in prison on toilet paper. 

So be glad that you (probably) don't have to do that.

In conclusion, I thought this article was due tomorrow and I'm writing it on the fly before I go to bed. Love you all.


  1. That's hilarious about how many times we begin--and true. I am in a constant circle of revision and using half-pieces and recycling stuff...

  2. Like the time I began a new story thusly: It was the depths of winter when I heard the knock. It was Norman, my numb gnome cousin from Nome who was far from Normal. Why he wanted to be in Illinois in the first place was beyond me, but so was Montana. I sent him on his way. The end. (why the blog insists I'm anonymous is one of the great mysteries of life, right up there with why McDonalds and Burger King don't offer poutine)


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