Writing Tip #53

Kill the alarm clock? Far be it from me to tell anyone how to start their novel, but every time I read a work of fiction and it begins with someone slapping the snooze button of an alarm clock or an alarm clock ringing and someone growling and crawling out of bed, I can’t help but think of one of my graduate school professors at Hofstra who told our creative writing class: “For the love of god, please don’t start your novel with an alarm clock. Do you know how many of those openings I’ve read?”

The alarm clock thing has been done. And done again. And it makes me wonder about the nature of beginnings and how, as writers, we feel compelled to begin our novels in logical places — like the beginning of a day. And while I believe that every writer should write what is true in their heart, particularly for a first draft, it is a good idea, down the road in the editing process, to question these kinds of choices that we’ve made.

Hey, if you’ve always envisioned your novel beginning with someone throwing a bunny slipper at an alarm clock, then do it. But perhaps you should ask yourself why you’ve made that choice and see if you like your answer. Or if you even have one.


3 thoughts on “Writing Tip #53

  1. I got your notice this morning in my email for this post and I have been trying to get things done and your post has been stuck in my head the whole time and then I just seen your twitter post about it! LOL! So here I am! Morning Dina. No haven’t started my novel with the alarm clock, in fact I have a line in my current novel how the heroine doesn’t need an alarm clock because she’s always been an early riser. But there are references throughout my book dealing with clocks, watches, and time though. Simply because my heroine keeps herself on a tight schedule and is a control freak of her time!

    • Hey, Karen! Thanks so much for stopping by! Your heroine sounds intriguing. And I love how you visibly represent her “control freakiness” with the appearance of clocks, watches, etc. Very creative. Look forward to reading your book one day!

  2. So funny I would read this today–no no I do not start anything I write with an alarm clock! BUT I re-watched Stranger than Fiction last night and I was again amused by the use of the wristwatch in the movie. I think the trick may be using an alarm clock in an unexpected way…. but as you say, it’s in the use of the character waking up to the alarm clock, it’s, well, alarming :)

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