New Contest Blog Post: How to Edit Yourself


Thanks Mary, this simultaneously makes me feel happy for the grammar traps I avoid and dumb for the areas where I repeatedly fall short.

My refined story opening:

I suddenly awoke to a terrible noise outside. I suddenly jumped when there was a knock at the door right after. A voice said suddenly “It’s me; Kurt!” I shouted “Wait, who?” Then I opened the door and suddenly realized it was Kurt; and he was hurt!

(After I submit my entry, migut have to make a thread to encourage people to make the worst openings a la the Bulwer-Lytton contest).

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Hmmmmm I don’t think I included “never start a story with the protagonist waking up,” but that is solid fiction workshop advice. Your opening is extra crappy, well done.

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Yeah, that would be about on par with that old saw about not starting your D&D campaign in a tavern. A fine idea at one time, but one that has been gradually worn away somewhat by overuse.

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This is awesome! Thanks for the amazing idea…

I guess the similarity there is how little such a thing grounds the reader or player in some activity? Opening with the protagonist waking up? Oh, this is not about anything, or whatever the author thinks it’s about they couldn’t start their story with something engaging. A tavern? Well literally anyone and anything could be in here, so…

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Good post – although I’ve got to point out that Vonnegut didn’t actually follow that advice about every sentence advancing plot or revealing character. Unless we’re talking about his character.

So it goes.


I’m actually not a huge Vonnegut fan, but the advice is sound. And I like a lot of fiction that neither reveals character nor advances the plot, like David Markson’s work, so :grin:


Thanks to this comment, all through The Shape of Water I was like, “…and it started with her waking up!”