Well, after once again neglecting my poor blog, I’m back to participate in another “Teens Can Write, Too!” blog chain. For those readers unaware of TCWT, it’s essentially a giant entity of awesomeness in the form of a blog for writers. John Hansen runs it over here. Check it out, even if you’re not a teen. There’s some fan-flipping-tastic writing and publishing advice over on that site. Anyway, the prompt for this month’s blog chain is:
“What are your favorite book beginnings and/or endings?”
So this prompt excites me, because I personally think the sign of a really good writer is someone who can hook a reader straight from the beginning. I’ve studied a lot of openings to novels, and I’ll be honest, I still suck at writing them myself. Endings are even more difficult for me. (Middles are also tough to write. Words are hard, people.) So when I see a writer who can pull these elements off really well, it makes me a happy reader. Because I like lists and I feel like it’s the easiest way to organize this post, I’m going to list my three favorite beginnings and my three favorite endings. Note these aren’t my “all time” favorites, but rather the stories that immediately came to mind when I sat down to write this post.
I consider both of these authors to be masters of voice, and I was caught up in the characters’ stories from the moment I read the first lines. Their voices are so entirely opposite and unique, and it sets up the story almost immediately. If you haven’t read WGWG yet, you’re a terrible person, and you need to get off this blog immediately and go order yourself a copy of the novel. You’re back? You ordered it? Okay, good. While you’re waiting for that copy to arrive, here’s the first sentences that I love so much:
From John Green’s Will: “When I was little, my dad used to tell me, ‘Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.’”
From David Levithan’s Will: i am constantly torn between killing myself and killing everyone around me.
Okay, so let’s get two things straight: One, I’m not a huge fan of Middle Grade books. Two, I don’t usually like “issue books” that focus solely on how incredibly shitty one person’s luck is. Wonder is essentially both of these things, but I adore this book. It’s in my top-five all time favorites. It’s beautiful and poignant and heartbreaking, and I could use a hundred-thousand more adjectives to describe it, but I still couldn’t capture with words how much I love this book.
I knew right from the start that I’d love this book. One of the opening lines in the first chapter is: “Here’s what I think: the only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.” To me, that’s such an amazingly gorgeous and brave statement. Not only does it capture the sweet honesty of the main character and narrator, but it gives the reader an immediate glimpse into the novel’s themes. Wonder is chalk-full of lines like this, and I swear I could read it a thousand times and never get bored.
I actually haven’t read this book in quite a while, but I remember the beginning hooking me immediately. It’s an equal mix of dry British humor and WTF moments, and somehow it just ends up being hysterical. The series is “a trilogy in five parts” wherein Earth is destroyed by the supreme beings on the planets, which are dolphins. Come on. Don’t tell me that’s not hook-y.
Okay, so now for the endings. I’ll keep things as vague and spoiler free as possible, but I’ll also try to explain why I enjoyed each one.
I love the ending of this book, because it’s a perfect sort of bittersweet. It never tries to romanticize or glamorize suicide, which is where so many other books on the topic go wrong. But there’s still a glimmer of hope at the end, and it’s just enough to leave the reader with a little smile after blubbering through 300 pages.
Another bittersweet ending that I love. Personally, I’m a fan of endings that don’t tie up entirely neatly, so I was really happy with the way Rowell ended things. The imperfections made the whole book feel that much more authentic.
When I got near the end of Mistborn, my first reaction was a frustrated sigh and a roll of my eyes. I was positive things were about to tie up all too neatly, and then bam. That ending. Oh my god, that ending. It’s like getting slapped in the face with an exclamation mark. Usually I’m not a huge fan of cliffhangers, but that one was so artfully done, I loved it.
So that just about wraps up this post. Make sure you check out the other entries on the TCWT blog chain, which can be found at the following links:
September 2014 blog chain prompt/schedule:
Prompt: “What are your favorite book beginnings and/or endings?”
8th – http://zarahoffman.com/
15th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/
and http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)