As David Pepose puts it, Newsarama “has a new regular feature, Writer’s Workshop, which will be teamed with its sister column Artists’ Alley—where we ask comics professionals to dig deep into how they operate.” I have the honor of being the first subject of the column, and if you want to learn more about my writing—from novels to comics—and what it’s like working with Daniel Way, head on over to Newsarama.
In book news…well, I’m still writing the book. Haha. Lots of leopard print and red high heels, at the moment. These characters are such characters, man.
Not long ago, Renee Sweet asked: You’ve talked about the importance of great first sentences before. Could you talk more specifically about how you craft yours? For example, do you have to have that in place before you can write the rest of the book? Do you typically end up writing several versions of it by the time the book is complete? Etc.
I sort of cover that in the Newsarama interview, where I address my process with regards to the first line of A WILD LIGHT. I’m always tweaking these things, tasting them, trying them out in my head. First lines set the tone, and have their own momentum. I can’t tell you how I write them, just that I think very hard about them. If I’m obsessive compulsive about anything, it’s that. I also think a lot about the opening lines of each chapter, too, for the same reason.
Here’s a small story about the creation of the first line from SHADOW TOUCH. Honestly, I can’t remember how the book originally started, but I do know that a couple weeks before I had to turn it in, I realized that the beginning just wasn’t quite right. You know, it’s hard to explain that instinct, just that it’s a sinking feeling in your gut, a nagging sense that the story lacks something vital.
At the time I was in a hotel room in Appleton, Wisconsin (my dentist is up there), and it was night and I was on the bed with the laptop. I stared at the screen, thinking about everything that was wrong with the story (I remember that much), and then I just started writing. The first line that is currently in the book just came to me, out of the blue. A little bulky, maybe still bulky, but I tweaked it until it’s what you can read today:
Shortly before being shot in the back with a tranquilizer dart and dumped half-dazed on a stretcher, right before being stolen from the hospital by silent men in white coats, Elena Baxter stood at the end of a dying child’s bed, her hand on a small bare foot, and attempted to perform a miracle.
Right after that I wrote the last half of the book in another hotel room in another state. I think the hall outside was haunted, but that’s a whole different story.