1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    How do I write a paragraph?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by waitingforzion, Apr 20, 2014.

    I am trying to write the first paragraph of a story, but I keep on backspacing every time I get to the second clause of the first sentence. I want it to sound right, but it doesn't. Should I just write the paragraph without focusing on whether its sounds right, and even whether it makes sense, and then revise it afterwards?

    That's one thing that is difficult for me. Writing without paying attention to sound and structure? Do people often write without structure, and shape their writing later?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Never write the first paragraph first. :p

    Is it grammar that is hanging you up, or ????
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can write and rewrite the first sentence of a story once or fifty times - but I do it until I get it right. That first sentence sets the tone of the story in my mind; when I finally have it, it's like YES!!!!! - and the story starts to flow. So I see only one problem with taking extra time on the first sentence or first paragraph - if you never, ever get past it.

    As to the rest, some people write the entire story and then edit/revise, others edit/revise as they go, some plot, some don't. Every author (and every story) is different, so try different things and see which one(s) let you keep moving forward with the story.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I tend to write one to five paragraphs and only then do some light editing. I'll usually repeat that until I've reached some logical boundary--the end of a blog post, a scene, a detailed thought. Then I'm likely to tear the whole thing apart, throwing out paragraphs that I realize are no longer necessary, bringing the third thought up to be the first thought, dumping extraneous thoughts--things that involve moving, deleting, merging, splitting, or adding entire paragraphs or groups of paragraphs.

    Only after that do I really care about words, sound, structure, elegance. Now, that doesn't mean that I forbid myself to manicure sentences before that point--sometimes I need to do some manicuring to have a better understanding of what I've written. But the first words to come out of my typing fingers are raw materials--I absolutely do not go out of my way to make them come out pretty. I don't think that it's realistic to demand that expression and presentation happen simultaneously.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I generally don't tackle the first sentence, the first paragraph, until I have the tone I want in my head. This sometimes means writing "test scenes" - practice scenes - involving my characters. Once I've got the tone I want, the style, a voice that sounds good to me when I read my work aloud, I have momentum, and the first paragraph comes easier. The first entire pages get easier and easier as I write them, and I gain confidence that it's good.

    Don't attempt to write paragraph one if you don't feel ready to. It's like exercising without warming up first - you could hurt yourself. And it won't do your story any good, either. :)
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I continue to find it puzzling that anyone knows with any confidence that they're writing the first paragraph. I can't wrap my mind around that kind of certainty in planning. I'm not saying that it's bad, just that I don't get it.
     
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  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is a good point. As I've said here before, I worked (on and off - mostly off, of course) on the opening sentence of my first novel for years and years. I don't remember how long exactly, but it might have been nearly twenty years. At the end of all that, I simply deleted it. If I can't get it right, I won't have it at all. I've never missed it.

    Also, the first part of that novel that I wrote turned into Chapter Four. Quite a bit of stuff got moved around during the composition of the first draft. But the first paragraph I wrote certainly did not wind up as the first paragraph of the novel.
     
  8. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me, it's not certainty in planning. It's getting the feel for the story that's to come. What that story is, I'm never quite sure - but I get that first part down and it seems "right", and the story grows from there.
     
  9. TheDapperJack
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    TheDapperJack Member

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    I'm a chronic revisionist, so I go through this pretty much every time I write, whether what I end up with is objectively superior to the original phrasing or not so I feel you bro.
     
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  10. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't worry about it. Just write. You can edit later.
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just write. Thinking about those things while writing and deleting in the end of every sentence is the best way to get oneself a writers block. Be creative first, you have plenty of time to be critical.
     
  12. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Let's be careful of the blanket statements - I've never had writer's block and I think about "those things" throughout every story. :)
     
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  13. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm speaking of course from my own perspective. Don't we all? I never meant it to come off as a universal truth. :) I thought that was understood. After all, we can only speak from our own experiences.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, but writing 'oneself' instead of 'myself' takes it from your own experience to a blanket statement for all to follow, as sw noted...
     
  15. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sometimes it is hard to give advice on something as personal as this. For me, once I'm ready to start on the story, I just picture the scene and start writing. Apart from typos I rarely need to go back and re-write. Even in editing I mostly correct mistakes or change a particular word to improve verbal flow, and sometimes add expansions and clarifications.
     

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