Friday, 11 June 2010

He Poured Sugar into His Coffee…

He poured sugar into his coffee. Those words send chills up and down my spine. They give me shivers. All the soft, sensual kisses on my neck couldn’t send me into exquisite paroxysms of pleasure like that sentence.

What? Am I a sugar junkie? Sweets lover? Well, yes. But that’s got nothing to do with WHY these beautiful words—as the old fifty’s song says—send me.

He poured sugar into his coffee is the opening line of one of my current WIP’s. No, this is not my ego talking. I’m not in love with my own written words. It’s the story behind the sentence which makes it so precious to me.

I told a friend, who is a writer, that I wanted to begin a story, but I had no clear vision of the character or the plot. All I DID know was that, in my head, the hero of the story was gay. Hardly a foundation for a story, not even a cornerstone. Nothing.

My friend challenged me. He pitched two lines to me—a first line for the book and another for the last.

He said to start the book with the sentence ‘He poured sugar into his coffee’. The last sentence? I’m not telling THAT until the end.

It may sound silly, but it worked. Who knew? I typed the sentence, watched it form in black and white on the screen, thinking the whole time how impossible it would be to launch a complete book from that little handful of simple words.

But the moment the words left my fingers, when I touched the keyboard, my character was plunked straight from my mind into a cheesy railcar diner with miles of shiny chrome, red-and-white checkered floors, the smell of bacon, eggs and coffee, and tinkling bells over the door. In that diner, he met his lover and the story began.

To this day, I wonder if my friend actually waved a magic wand— perhaps sprinkled magic dust—over those words to anoint them. Or am I just one of those whose imagination needs a good kick in the ass to get started? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. It’s all too beautiful, the way the imagination works, to bother analyzing it.

And I love this story that I started. I love the character. I know him intimately now. And he’s even more beautiful to me because I marvel that he was conceived by a simple suggestion of pouring sugar into coffee. You know the old query: which came first, the sugar or the man?

I think, too, that this particular hero will always be my favorite BECAUSE of his unique conception. I hope the future will bring many companions to him, other heroes and heroines who are dreamed up in such special ways.

I’m going to ask YOU the same old tired question: What inspires YOU? What beautiful seeds have been planted into YOUR imagination that sprouted into your beloved characters? I’d truly love to know.


Lex Valentine said...

Congrats, darlin! What a wonderful start to your career!

KarennaC said...

Oh, what a great way to start a story! Can't wait to find out what the last sentence will be :)

Anonymous said...

For me it's seeing something that sparks off a plot or reading a news story that sends my mind adrift and, like you, one sentence that can help to get the rest of the book onto the page. When I read books and get chills from certain lines--and they don't have to be purple prose and beautiful either, just something that says something to me--it's a wonderful feeling.

I'm looking forward to reading this when you're done!

Perpetua said...

ohh I am loving the site!! I am very excited to read this when your done, can't wait to find out what the last line will be!

Debbie Gould said...

What wonderful advice he gave you. I hope he knows what a precious friend he is. Can't wait to read the finished product!

Regina Carlysle said...

Love the first time. It's magic when that one certain thing sets everything on the right course. For me, sitting outside in my backyard where things are quiet and still brings inspiration. A word or phrase might come, if I'm lucky and a vision forms from that. Sometimes I'm simply inspired by the repetitious act of folding laundry. Weird, I know. If I'm stumped, I get up, fold some clothes and the scene usually works itself out in my mind.

BTW...I adore your blog.

Lauralyn said...

Your blog is just so beautiful! I love looking at each picture, it's like a jewel box.

For me, I usually start with a scene in my head, "what if men are jogging and one says you're hot and the other whips his head around and runs into a lightpost." (This actually sort of happened to a friend of mine when he was watching the woman who would later become his wife walk down the opposite side of the street.)

Usually it's a flash of inspiration brought on by something very ordinary. A very shabby little shelf of gay lit in a bookstore (Crossing Borders) An attractive boy carry a large floral tribute (Drawn Together) A child riding home from school with a violin strapped to his back (St. Nacho's) I think I see a picture, and automatically, it becomes a story. for me.

Lisa Alexander Griffin said...

I love your opening line. The story will be awesome when it's finished! Keep putting those words down. Your new blog is perfect.

Patric said...

Oh, what a beautiful blog! And such a grand, appropriate entrance to your career. It suits you so perfectly well it's scary. :)

I love that first line! What imagery it conjures up!

And ironically enough, sometimes that's all it takes for me to start a story, that very first sentence. Usually though, it will a flash from something someone said, something I saw, or perhaps a remembered snatch of phrase.

Apparently Zam and I are similar in that when the inspiration hits, it'll trigger an image that contains the entire conceptualized plot. If I find the first line to add to that, bam! I have a story.

A kid waiting for a city bus became Night Moves. Someone mentioned being given a Santa mug one year, and I saw the whole of Darren and Max's story in an instant. I fell asleep one afternoon and awoke disoriented because it was dark outside. That gave me A Voice in the Darkness, and sometime the original image changes. I was talking with a friend about her rotten husband, imagining him as an ogre, which led me to the scene from The Hobbit where Bilbo talks them to stone. I envisioned Tion and Kail as human doing something similar, and only after I wrote the first line did I realize they weren't human at all. They became the sprites in Conway's Curse.

In almost all instances though, some image was either the spark or the catalyst to find the plot.

Good luck with your career, love, and enjoy this wondrous time with your first novel. You'll not find a more exciting, exhilarating time in your life, at least until you are first published!


ElaineG said...

The blog is beautiful, and I can't wait to read ALL the lines between the first and last (you tease *winks*) What a wonderful friend, to challenge you to do what HE knew you could do. Friends are sometimes more precious than we know.

kathyk said...

Wow Carol... I LOVE the background look... and like the others, I'm anxiously awaiting the last line. It's sure to be a doozy!

And your site is PERFECT for you! And I love the tag line - or whatever it is 'cause 'tag' might not be the right word - To Write is to Breathe, To Live, To Dance... beautiful.

Oh, and for me? I'm a reader. *grin*

Maurya said...

Kathy! What a beautiful site and what a perfect first blog! It's so true, sometimes you just need that starting sentence to make it click.

My ideas come from all over. Mostly from people I see, though. I'm a people person, so I'll see someone and start thinking about what would happen if...and the story is off and running in my head.

Having said that, my story, Wishes, started with that first line too. I actually was just messing around trying to visualize something to do with snow and suddenly I had a

Keep writing, Carol...can't wait for more:)

Sarah Ballance said...

My best ideas usually come to me in dreams, but it helps to have a crit partner who cares just as much about my stories as she does her own. *wink*

Love your site - it's beautiful ... it's YOU!

Unknown said...

My ideas come from so many different places. I'll be reading something, and an idea will fly out at me. I'll overhear snatches of a conversation. This is one reason I read a little bit of everything. I'll go to the library and read articles in magazines -- history, science, People, psychology, whatever my eye falls on. I say leave yourself open to ideas and they will come. Sorta like that ball diamond. LOL.