First Lines and Moats

There is a feeling that precedes starting the first line of a new book. It’s a tingling; a nervousness of sorts. I know that when I begin that first line, I am locked in, caught up in the story until the final word has been written. I am not a prisoner to the black letters on white paper; rather, I am a captive audience, holding my own breath as battles are waged and triumphs had. Yet I sit and stare at the page because I know what being a captive audience feels like. I know that once the story begins, it will continue until it is done. I cannot leave my characters hanging on the brink of an abyss. The abyss must be filled with castles and moats, alligators and swamp creatures, because as no castle should be without a moat, no story is complete without all of the right pieces falling into place.

The nervousness comes because I know that the book will sweep me away. Part of my mind will be prey to the story, thinking about what comes next, dreaming about the scenes I have written, knowing that in the end, it will no longer be my story; it is instead my characters’ story, for by the time it is done, their actions are their own, the story writes itself, and I am but another eager spectator who gets first-hand knowledge of what happens next.

Some may call this brief blog stalling. I might even admit it. Yet as soon as it is written, there is nothing left but to start the first line of my next book. I’m excited about it, I look forward to it, and though I know how it is going to begin, some of the events in the middle, and where I plan for it to end, I am excited to write it because nothing ever happens quite the way I imagine it. Just as a shoe eventually fits the foot of the wearer, the story begins to mold to the characters, becoming a part of them as much as a part of me. I am ready for the adventure. Let the castle and moats begin!

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