There is no thrill on earth like the one a writer experiences when a book is completed. Living with characters we have created, and like immensely, is a great pleasure. The anticipation of turning them loose in the world to make additional friends is a heady experience. But I am the first to admit that there is a downside to this. Louis L’amour once said that he could sit in the busiest intersection in Los Angeles and write without any distraction. I think all of us have experienced that feeling, but what do you do when you hit the slippery slope of a finished manuscript and can’t leap into another story with the same absorption? Here is something that works for me and I hope it will work for you. I recently witnessed a good-humored competition between writers who were trying to do what Ernest Hemingway once did to win a bar bet. He said he could write a complete story in six words. His entry was:
‘For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.’
There is, indeed, a complete story in those six words as there are in many other sentences contained in the works of various authors. I call such sentences, ‘novel starters,’ because they evoke emotions and lubricate the mental channels where books are born. Here is one I gleaned from a book by Kerry Reichs:
“I’m going to miss you,” I burbled through the snot.
That sentence has the proper amount irreverence to get our attention and get the juices flowing again. Thank you, Kerry, I’m off again on another adventure . . .