Friday, August 3, 2012

Willamette Writers Conference and being crafty

One on One Screenplay Consultations at Willamette Writers Conference
It is the Willamette Writers Conference again.  After spending the morning volunteering in the film agents consultation area, I was ready to attend some classes in the afternoon.  I chose a class taught by Lois Leveen called "Crafting Compelling Opening Lines."

She made us write an opening line for a book which included a nurse, and a homeless man in a hospital setting.  The opening line I came up with was so lame I wouldn't even want to read it to my critique group.

The scraggly man lurched into the scrub room, blood gushing from his arm, and grabbed the nurse's shoulder.

Lois then went on to give us several examples of opening lines from popular books and we dissected them to discover what made them good.  She said an opening line should contain some or all of the following:

  1. Sense of character
  2. Establishes relationships
  3. Sense of place
  4. Adventure
  5. Place
  6. Time/retrospection
  7. What has already happened
  8. What is about to occur

At the end of the class she had us write our opening line again.  Mine still doesn't accomplish all of the above, but I think it is a little stronger than the first example.

 A bloody hand, filthy fingers splayed, reached from the darkness of the empty ward and swiped the nurse's shoulder.

Lois Leveen

Please feel free to write your own opening line dealing with a homeless man, and nurse in a hospital setting in the comments section.

Lois Leveen is the author a Portland based author of The Secrets of Mary Bowser


  1. Nice opening, Mel. Does this mean a another book is to follow? Hope you all had fun.

  2. Pam,

    Phfffft, I've already rewritten that line a dozen more times.

  3. Can anyone play? :o)

    “Whew, for a famous surgeon, you smell like you slept under a bridge,” snarked the battle-weary O.R. nurse.

    1. LOL, I love it. I never would have thought to place the surgeon in the role of the homeless man. Very nice indeed.

  4. Trying again to say that your second attempt was excellent!


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