Isabel Allende
An interesting entry came to my attention from a blog from my Alma Mater, the University of Houston.
The blogpost linked to another blog called Writer’s Almanac where the goddess Isabel Allende wrote about writing from a trance, channeling her book. That’s how she wrote House of Spirits and others.

Is this a way to write a book? Who am I to question Allende’s technique? But her approach is very interesting.

For me, I don’t do step by step planning but I do know how I want the story to flow, a bit about my characters, and some about their adventures. Sometimes, I’ll even know the ending, but not all the time.

But sometimes, it starts with the first sentence. As is outlined in the blog, she writes a really great first sentence and everything stems from there. This reminds of prompt writing or starters. It had been awhile since I’ve done one and always enjoyed them. I’ve always considered them, however, as a writers warm up, the stretch before the big race.

Then that comparison reminded me about a line I read today on — novelists are like marathon runners.

So does that mean writers have to train accordingly? Yes, we do. Absolutely.

For Allende, the starter or the super great first sentence is not only the warm up but the race. She keeps going until the race is won. She wins only because she has trained.

Although being a journalist has lots of perks, there is also a down fall I see. At the core, we are not trained to be long distance runners, we are the sprinters. We are 12 to 15 inches for daily work. That’s shrinking at most papers to 8-10 inches. The sprint is getting shorter.

What does a sprinter do to becoming a long distance runner? They train and learn how to pace themselves.

And it starts, like Allende knows, with the first sentence.