Tag Archives: writing

The Opening Paragraph!

There is a lot of advice on writing on the internet these days – by professionals and amateurs alike. My favourite is Alyssa Matesic, freelance editor, who has a youtube channel providing all manner of professional advice to writers. She has a video on How to Nail Your Novel Opening and Hook Your Reader. Crime Reads website gives examples from Graham Greene’s novels of outstanding opening paragraphs. They are worth studying.


Graham Greene and the Art of the Opening Paragraph

Dwyer Murphy, Crime Reads

It’s no wonder that Graham Greene, a man who sampled so abundantly from life’s many offerings and made it a matter of constitutional pride never to turn down the chance of an adventure, excelled at what we now call world-building. Although sci-fi and fantasy writers tend to get the nod as masters of the craft, world-building has long been a cornerstone of the thriller, especially the international thriller, that rarefied form in which a reader is dropped into a new terrain, a new culture, and has to learn to decipher its signs and signifiers well enough to know when the whole enterprise is being compromised. The literary work must be done swiftly, and to great effect, and there was no one for it like Graham Greene, a writer who could conjure up a life, a setting, a dilemma, and a worldview, all in a few neat lines.

Greene, born 115 years ago today in Hertfordshire, lived a complex, globetrotting, ambivalent life. He was a journalist, a teacher, a converted Catholic, an Englishman in frequent exile, a screenwriter, an ambitious novelist, an author of “entertainments,” a spy, a sympathizer of guerrillas and dictators alike, and a man of deeply held moral beliefs. With all that experience, all he’d seen of the world, and with a honed craft, he brought the international thriller (and other styles) to new heights and left an indelible mark on the history of 20th century literature. His stories moved from far-flung locales to the damp streets of English seaside towns. Havana, Saigon, Port-au-Prince, Brighton, Dover, the Mexican countryside, an Argentine border town—he brought each of them to life with rich stories of intrigue and struggle. Often expats and westerners were his subjects (and often his fiction reflected views we now recognize as racist), but he never shied away from exploring the lives of locals and how they’d been disrupted by the intrusions and exploitations of global powers.

Today we’re celebrating one piece of Greene’s craft: the opening paragraph. Assembled here for your reading pleasure are ten of his greatest opening gambits (ranked, roughly). Note how much depth Greene packs into these lines, how he launches the story forward without any ostentatious bells or whistles, just an authenticity of voice and a confidence in craft. Who else could have written these lines but Greene?

Read the rest here …

The Catholic Novel is my genre of novel writing

Until now I have not felt the need to place my fiction writing into any particular genre, happy to let the novels speak for themselves. I adopted this attitude even though the three novels I have written fit into the genre of the Catholic novel. 

I did not want to put any limitation on them. I was convinced that the stories’ framework would not inhibit the interest of the discerning reader. I was right about this. A number of readers said that the Catholic characters and circumstances did not prevent them from liking the novel. 

I have changed my mind and think it best that I ‘come out’, so to speak.

First, I don’t see myself writing as anything other than a novel in the genre. I have two novels planned, one already at 45,000 words, and they will be in this market. There is no point in hiding the fact. Indeed, it will link me to that market.

Second, there has been such a polarisation in Australian society that I feel I must make an explicit stand on where we are heading. The issues of ‘same-sex’ marriage, the Safe Schools program, and euthanasia are just a few of the issues that have, and will continue to polarise Australian society.

Third, in coming out, I would like to promote the market and encourage readers and writers to have a closer a look at the novels and novelists in the genre of the Catholic novel. To this end, I will make comments and provide links to writers and their works.

What does the genre of the Catholic novel entail? I have devoted a page to explaining what is it and who are its foremost proponents.