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LESSON 18--A GREAT BEGINNING #3

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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glorybee
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Postby glorybee » Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:55 pm

Phee, don't worry about using that Bible verse. That's not a 'rule', just my own personal preference.

I love the passage you posted, for all of the reasons that you pointed out. Thanks so much for sharing it!

I'd love to read one of your passages. Got something for us?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Verna » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:55 am

So glad to see you back behind the teacher's desk, Jan. I've missed you there.

Here's the beginning of a devotion I wrote for our church website.

When I think of a dismal day, “Casey at the Bat,” a poem by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, comes to mind. The poem begins, “The Outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day,” and all the way through each stanza, the crowd waits in anticipation for the “Mighty Casey” to come to bat. But alas! Casey strikes out.

The Israelites must have felt terribly depressed as they faced battle with the Philistines, superior in size and number to them. They had directed their hearts to the Lord to serve Him only, as their judge...

The devotion continues with the Israelites' repentance, God's giving them a glorious victory against the Philistines and Samuel's placing a stone at Mizpah for remembering God's goodness. I concluded with a short poem of stones of my remembrance for God's salvation, protection, provision, and assurance.
Verna

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine...
Proverb 17:22

Facebook author page: Verna Cole Mitchell
http://www.magnificomanuscripts.com/

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Postby glorybee » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:39 am

Verna, what a treat to read some prose from you! What immediately stood out for me was your pleasant, conversational tone. I'd definitely read on!

What are your thoughts about excellent beginnings for poetry?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Verna » Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:44 pm

I'm not sure of many ideas for starting a poem, but one that's important to me is to start with the theme or main idea of the poem.

Another is to have an easy-to-understand and interesting lead-in to what follows. Recently, when I started to read a challenge poem that just looked like a list of statistics, I skipped over it. Then when I saw the hints and knew it was the work of a gifted writer, I went back and continued reading. It was a really gorgeous poem after the first stanza.

I looked over a series of poems I'd written and discovered that I often begin by addressing the reader with a statement or question--to draw someone into following me with my thoughts.

If the poem is descriptive, it's good to begin to paint a picture early.

One more idea--Early in the poem, use some poetic device. Don't save all the beauty of a poem for the end.

Hmm..I guess I had more ideas than I thought I had.
Verna

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine...
Proverb 17:22

Facebook author page: Verna Cole Mitchell
http://www.magnificomanuscripts.com/

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Postby pheeweed » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:08 pm

This is the beginning of a Mother's Day devotional I wrote about Salome, mother of John and James. I don't actually introduce her until the second paragraph.

I’ve always hated the bumper sticker that says “Proud parent of an honor student.” My kids weren’t honor students. I’m not saying I’m not proud of my kids. They are both talented, warm, and loving followers of Jesus. They are smart enough to be honor students, but getting good grades wasn’t the most important thing in our house. But there’s this deep, ugly part of me that doesn’t like other mothers who boast about their kids as if they were better than mine.



I introduce conflict by saying what I hate and how I feel about other mothers, but I think I also show that the conflict is within me.

Everyone’s probably seen the bumper sticker I refer to, so it’s an example of something that I’ve observed in the real world and they have too.

I think my voice is clear, it’s as if I were complaining to a group of friends.

I see now that I could have used some salsa words - my description of my kids is pretty bland, especially after the strong emotion in the first sentence.

Maybe: One's a moody poet and the other a passionate politician. Both love Jesus and walk in His ways.
Phee
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http://www.delightedmeditations.blogspot.com

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT

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Postby glorybee » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:58 pm

Verna wrote:I'm not sure of many ideas for starting a poem, but one that's important to me is to start with the theme or main idea of the poem.

Another is to have an easy-to-understand and interesting lead-in to what follows. Recently, when I started to read a challenge poem that just looked like a list of statistics, I skipped over it. Then when I saw the hints and knew it was the work of a gifted writer, I went back and continued reading. It was a really gorgeous poem after the first stanza.

I looked over a series of poems I'd written and discovered that I often begin by addressing the reader with a statement or question--to draw someone into following me with my thoughts.

If the poem is descriptive, it's good to begin to paint a picture early.

One more idea--Early in the poem, use some poetic device. Don't save all the beauty of a poem for the end.

Hmm..I guess I had more ideas than I thought I had.


Verna, these are great! I especially like the ones that I highlighted in red. Love it!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:01 pm

Phee--wonderful. You already pointed out the first thing that appealed to me--your very real voice. Reading this brief passage, I feel as if I know you very well already.

Too many people write their nonfiction pieces in a dry or ponderous tone. In today's world, people just don't have the time for that. You've done exactly what needed to be done--hooked the reader.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby pheeweed » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:06 pm

I have a question. I know your lessons are geared toward the challenge, but of course they apply to longer works. I am currently working on a 12 chapter, non-fiction book. I'm wondering if the principles you've taught about beginnings should apply to each chapter. It seems obvious that they should, but if so, how do you also include a transition from the last chapter? Or do you just plunge into the topic of the chapter, since you have presumably already grabbed your reader's attention?
Phee
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http://www.delightedmeditations.blogspot.com

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT

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Postby glorybee » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:26 am

Phee, those are great questions, and I hope that nonfiction writers will chime in with their answers. I'm not much of a nonfiction reader, so this is mostly just what sprang to my mind as I read your questions, with very little (by which I mean...none at all) to back it up.

Yes, I think each new chapter should have a great beginning, using one or more of the tricks I've listed. Readers typically stop reading at the end of a chapter, and when they pick the book up again a day or a week later, they need that incentive to keep reading.

As far as transitions, I almost think they go in the previous chapter, where you'll hint about what's to come. And if that doesn't work, there's no reason why the transition can't come in paragraph two or three of the new chapter, after you've given the reader a fun anecdote or a shocking story or something like that to introduce the topic of the new chapter.

What do you think?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby CatLin » Mon Nov 22, 2010 6:56 pm

glorybee wrote:
As far as transitions, I almost think they go in the previous chapter, where you'll hint about what's to come. And if that doesn't work, there's no reason why the transition can't come in paragraph two or three of the new chapter, after you've given the reader a fun anecdote or a shocking story or something like that to introduce the topic of the new chapter.

What do you think?


I agree they should come in the previous chapter - kind of like a cliffhanger. Give me a reason to keep reading, because I've been known to put a non-fiction book down and not care a whit if I keep reading it.

I also agree that each chapter should start with a punch. Now that you've enticed me to keep reading, please don't disappoint me. :D
Catrina Bradley
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"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (The Message)

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Postby swfdoc1 » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:09 am

Here's another great non-fiction opening I just stumbled upon:


What's that chanting I hear? "Less than my team! Less than my team! Less than my team!"

No, wait. It's getting closer. I can make it out more clearly now. "Lesson Nineteen! Lesson Nineteen! Lesson Nineteen!"

It sounds like a mob now. It's is a mob! I can see their torch light. They've crested the hill. They're still coming on. I can see their faces now.

It's ... it's ... it's all those who never do homework but who nevertheless hang on Jan's every lesson.


This opening creates such palpable suspense--will Jan give in to the demands of the mob? Will she stand fast on the homework issue? Will the mob go crazy and start posting en mass in the Theology boards? Wow!
Steve
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"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Postby nanny3times » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:41 am

:thumbs :thumbs :thumbs :coolsign :book2 :book2 :book2


Can't wait for the next chapter.... :shock: :hide
NancyKSullivan

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Proverbs3:5,6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him,and He shall direct your paths."

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Postby glorybee » Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:39 am

Hilarious!

No lesson 19 this week; too many holiday duties. Watch for it next week, maybe Sunday or Monday.

You guys are sweet.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby pheeweed » Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:48 am

Oh, duh! Thanks for the reminder that the transition should be at the end of the last chapter. I learned that when I wrote my thesis, but I had forgotten. Yes, it makes sense to do that and start the next chapter with an attention grabber. Now I have to go do it.

Can't wait for chapter 19. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.
Phee
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http://www.delightedmeditations.blogspot.com

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT

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Re: LESSON 18--A GREAT BEGINNING #3

Postby Shann » Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:56 pm

I'm glad that you liked this thread. Jan is an amazing teacher. You should check out the newbie nook and introduce yourself. It's a great way to meet others and have them get to know you too. Good luck, I hope to see you about and get to know you better
Shann

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