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Title? Check. First Sentence? Check.

Years ago, while driving around Norway, my colleague (also a journalist) suddenly announced quite smugly…

…“Well…I’ve come up with a title and a first sentence, so my story is done. Now I can relax and enjoy Scandinavia.”

At the time, I didn’t quite get what she meant, but over the years, I’ve come to understand. Once you have a title and a first sentence, your story is basically done.

It’s true. In the title and the first sentence, you commit to your idea, to your angle. After that, it’s just a matter of writing it through.

Writing is like running…once you start, just keep moving.

What does that mean exactly? It’s simply just putting in the time to go from beginning to end. Key here is not to stop.

I tend to think of it like running. Once you start, work up your heart rate and get it established, then keep it there. Just keep moving. Don’t stop. Don’t take a moment to fix a lace. Don’t pause for a water break. Just run…keep it going.

This is how I write most of my stories. As I cruise along, I inevitably come to spots that need facts such as dates and names. Those I look up later, marking the missing information with a TK. There will be time to fact-check and edit, even move chunks of copy around. The main thing is to get it out of my head and onto my computer.

Once I have that first draft done, I’m empowered to take the next step, which is to go through and edit as needed.

Once you go through this process a bunch of times, you too will see how having a title and a first sentence is really all you need. The rest will move on its own, unless you do something to stop it.

~Susan

What’s your writing style? Share your experience!

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