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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Because craft of fiction writing is often a big part of editing, I'm including this little Q&A column in The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor blog.  This column a la Ann Landers is a regular feature I run in my SharingwithWriters newsletter. And because metaphors can even be used by nonfiction writers (yes, they can!), this applies to everyone! (-:

Q&A a la Ann Landers

Metaphors and Your Novel's First Sentence ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


One of my readers contacted me and asked about using a series (several metaphors at once) of metaphors that were also foreshadowing as an opening paragraph for his novel.


I've never seen anything--book or short story--open with a set of metaphors. As promising as they seem (including the foreshadowing aspect), it is my feeling that they're not enough of a hook for an opening paragraph. You may want to read Lisa Cron's section on openings in her book Wired for Story. (

The first sentence of any writing is absolutely vital. But for fiction it is part of that hook that makes readers want to want to know what is happening to a person--in order to get people (including contest judges) to continue reading. Metaphors can be overdone. Not to discourage original ideas, but usually metaphors must be truly integral to the story--so much so that the reader--who is caught up in the story--hardly notices they are there.

Of course, the idea is so unusual that if your name were Hemingway or Wolfe you might get away with it--even be praised for it. But the practical advice-in the early or even middle stages of a writing career--is to stay closer to the tried and true for what catches and keeps people reading. There is a reason these rules (I know most writers are not much for that word “rules.”) have worked for so long--have in fact--developed over the decades. That reason is: They work!

If you would like to subscribe to my SharingwithWriters newsletter to get regular tips on book marketing, editing, and lots of great articles from me and well-known authors like Penny Sansevieri (watch for the next issue), got to The subscription form is in the upper right page of most every page and you'll get a free e-book on wordtripps and style choices from me. Promise.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

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