Observation Journal: playing with first lines

This observation journal page was a continuation of the ridiculous titles activity, and also the start of a few pages staring very hard at favourite first sentences.

Two pages of densely handwritten observation journal. On the left, five things seen, heard and done, and a drawing of a person putting bags into the back of a car. On the right, playing with first lines.
“very beautiful, many things”

I picked three of the titles (“These Are Not Hounds that Shift with the Sun”, “False Gifts, the Moon Brings”, and “The Dachshund of Moonfold”). Then, for each, I wrote two possible first sentences. I also made a note of what I liked about each — the oddity of a rooftop sunflower garden for a crime scene (based on a combination of the top of the Hachette UK office building and the sunflower garden in Changi airport); the aesthetic of the silver and black colour scheme prevalent at the death of an eminent interior decorator; the contrast between a brocaded waistcoat and a blighted hedge.

As I’d noticed before (see: application to a story), having fun with possible first sentences is an effective way to quickly isolate a tone and come up with characters — here, a beleaguered inspector, a perennially-broke (and potentially ill-fated) interior designer, and a disgraced estate agent.

But of course first sentences only get you so far. The real trick is in the (n+1)st sentence.

Occasionally I remember that. On this Saturday just past, I finally just sat down and sketched out the whole shape of a story that started with “A Fretted Folding Folly“. (Also illustrating the importance of revisiting these pages). And of course “The Heart of Owl Abbas” began as a challenge to write one sentence on the first day of a month, and two on the second, and so forth.

A French bulldog

2 thoughts on “Observation Journal: playing with first lines

  1. Pingback: Observation Journal: Title patterns | Kathleen Jennings

  2. Pingback: May 2021 — round-up of posts | Kathleen Jennings

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