Aug 10, 2009 by

Round 1: Write the opening sentence of your novella

Every unhappy family is indeed unhappy in its own way, but the truth is that it is no different for the happy ones.

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  1. I think it’s very cliche. Too opened and nothing instigating… It seems that you wrote it just because you can go anywhere from there.

  2. So do you also find the opening to Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” cliche?

  3. No. I don’t think it was a cliche in 1875…
    But I do think that the variations of this sentence: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” are kind of exhausted today.

  4. craig

    people love to read about families if they are crazier than their own (sedaris)

  5. Indeed, Craig. And usually the bigger the family, the “crazier” it is.

    Pat yourself on the back, Ivo. You most certainly do know how to use Google search.

  6. I am not sure if I’m allowed to comment on “outside” comments (if not, please let me know, Host) but I just wanted to congratulate Dan Powell for the fine three-part critiques. I particularly appreciated and took enjoyment in your parsing of my opening sentence:

    The ambiguity was deliberate, but perhaps you are correct in saying that ambiguity has no place in opening sentences.

  7. Yeah! But even a dog know how to use Google search. I have the book…
    But c’mon Nora. That’s just my opinion.
    If you’re a writer in this contest, I guess you gotta be open for the most diferent opinions all around the world…
    And back to your sentence, I still think it’s too open and you can make this a good or a bad thing.
    I wanna read more.
    Good luck tonight!

    • Agree, we can’t really tell if these potential stories are going to be good, we have to wait for round 2 to get a better sense. In a way, it’s a good choice to have a general opening because 1) chances people will dislike it enough to vote you off are reduced, and 2) you can more easily adapt your storyline to whatever challenges are coming next…

      Curious to see what Host will have them do for Round 2… hopefully not something too ‘difficult’, I also want to continue writing as a guest participant! 😉

  8. I agree, annasbones. Vagueness may pay off in the earlier rounds, but then again, maybe not. We’ll just have to wait and see. Host just Twittered that the video probably won’t be on the website until midnight. It looks like those of who aren’t nightbirds are going to have to wait until tomorrow morning.

    Ivo, have you considered writing an opening sentence? Maybe you could show us what you mean by example…

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