Lasting Advice from Writers and Teachers #2

#2. “Nobody dies on page two.” – Erica Duncan, author/teacher.

I lived in Sag Harbor, N.Y. at the beginning of my full time writing life, where I attended a writer’s group lead by *Erica Duncan. Erica, a celebrated literary voice, believed there was no such thing as a person who could not write. How lucky for me, as I had neither read a great body of literature nor acquired the degrees someone of her caliber might expect of a student.

Nobody dies on page two. A character might die anywhere in the book, but if death comes as early as page two, then it probably belongs on page one.

grim-reaper4Writing this blog caused me to review the first chapter of my latest novel Time Blade, about to go off to my editor. Gosh be darned, if I didn’t find the inciting incident of the story on page two!

I write fantasy, and Time Blade opens with Sky, the main character, traveling by train to Cornwall, UK. Crossing the River Tamar, Sky meets Tamara, Spirit of the River, who appears in a glittering body of astral light. Tamara tells Sky he must return to the ancient lost Kingdom of Ruberah to fulfill a promise he wrote eons ago. I had preceded this scene with seventeen-year-old Sky interacting with an elderly fellow passenger, a woman who never appears in the book again!

I wrote that scene to reveal certain character traits about Sky, which it did and which writing I perfected daily, as the document opens on page one and I could not resist tweaking it at every glance. Now I recognized it as one of those ‘darlings’ that must be killed.

Writer-Up! Off with its head! Nothing is lost! Sky’s character unfolds naturally within the story.

I knew next to nothing about writing when I attended Erica’s workshops, which was a blessing, otherwise I might not have dared to set foot in her establishment. Erica critiqued me as fairly and evenly as she did her most outstanding students.

Thank you, Erica.

*Erica Duncan: A Wreath of Pale White Roses

Unless Soul Clap its Hands: Portraits and Passages

http://www.christinagreenaway.com

Advertisements

Cornish, lover of enlightenment, risk, fish & chips on Mevagissey pier, devoted globe trotter. I write for the joy of discovery. An idea burns inside me and characters leap into my imagination. I turn their desires inside out to learn the truth that drives them. I publish to share that journey with others.

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Self Publishing, The Writing Life, Time Blade, Writers & Teachers
2 comments on “Lasting Advice from Writers and Teachers #2
  1. I’m not a big fan of rules. If the character needs to kick the bucket on page 2, then it has to kick the bucket on page 2.

    • Absolutely. ‘Think for yourself’ is my motto, hence the word ‘probably.’ In my case, this saying helped me evaluate the importance of my opening scene. If it had been truly relevant to the story, no rule or suggestion would budge me. Thanks for being you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: