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.
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.
What’s your writing style? Share your experience!