Beethoven & Some Great First Lines

BeethovenAfter a week away from the Blogosphere, there is so much to say.

Firstly, a mini-success to report: I was shortlisted (top 10) in the Sophie King short story prize and my story (‘The Taste of Love’) will be appearing in an anthology! (watch this space)

I’m now back from my jaunt to Germany and had a great time.

There are several things that the Germans do much better than us (and I’m not just saying this because Michaela, my German friend, will be tuning-in!).

They are, imo and in no particular order:

• Public Transport (painless, efficient, plentiful, ON TIME!)
• Beer
• Cakes
• Chocolate
• Rivers (have you seen the Rhine? It’s HUGE!)

Er, yes, there is a bit of a food-and-drink theme there, I know! (I decided, after our first round of ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’, that we were on a ‘gastronomic break’ and that soon absolved me of any guilt).

And I DID find a German hero (see last post, re. lack of German heroes!), namely: Ludwig van Beethoven! (I rather like that picture of him – very ‘Heathcliff’, don’t you think?)

Beethoven was born in Bonn, so we visited his birthplace while we were there. He was something of a ‘Charles Dickens’ of a composer, in terms of output, at least. He wrote 9 symphonies, 9 concertos, 16 string quartets, 32 piano sonatas, two hefty Mass settings, a selection of chamber works and an opera. No mean feat, especially when you consider he was almost completely deaf by the age of 32.

Here’s symphony no.7, as featured in the film ‘The King’s Speech’. Sadly, I am not musical and I’m something of a heathen when it comes to classical music but I think this is beautiful.

Review: 100 Great First Lines (by Linda Lewis)

Short story writer (and VNP: very nice person), Linda Lewis, who also sometimes writes as ‘Catherine Howard’ has kindly sent me a copy of her latest book, ‘100 Great First Lines’.

I was going to buy it but she insisted on sending it to me as a gift, so I’m going to tell you all about it here.

It’s a very original idea (and that’s one of things that Linda’s very good at: IDEAS!)

It contains, as you might have guessed from the title, 100 first lines and they’re all ‘successful’ first lines: they’ve come from some of the hundreds of stories that Linda’s had published or they’ve won competitions.

Part two of the book (and I had to try to resist devouring it in one sitting!) is even more interesting, as Linda then reveals not only the title of each story but how the story developed from that opening line – right up to and including, the ending.

I think the best way to use the book is to find a first line that appeals to you and write on from that and only look to see what Linda did with the story, after you’ve written your own version.

It’s very generous information (in fact, to be honest, I was almost tempted to keep this book all to myself!) and for anyone wanting to write for the women’s magazines and perhaps struggling to get a foot in the door (I know all about that!), then this could be just what you need to give you that ‘light bulb moment’ and a gentle nudge in the right direction!

If you’re interested in buying a copy, you can do so via Linda’s website here.

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16 Responses to Beethoven & Some Great First Lines

  1. Wendy Clarke says:

    Linda’s book ‘The Writer’s Treasury of Ideas’ was the first writing book I ever bought and Linda helped me a lot (by answering my annoying questions) in the early days.

  2. Wendy, yes, Linda has always been very helpful and generous with her advice to other writers!

  3. Downith says:

    Welcome back an well done on the shortlisting!

  4. Congratulations on being shortlisted Helen, and that book sounds like it needs to be read by me….

  5. Jan Baynham says:

    Congratulations on being shortlisted, Helen! Great news. Thanks for the recommendation for Linda’s book. It sounds just what I need at the moment. Linda sounds lovely. 🙂

  6. Bernadette says:

    Congrats on the Sophie King shortlisting. I’m in it too (under my real name) so I’ll see you there!

  7. Linda Lewis says:

    Thanks for the positive comments, Helen, and everyone else. I can’t tell you how much they cheer me up as I’m still struggling to get back to work. It’s been almost two years since my mother died. I had no idea it would take so long.

  8. I’ve never been to Germany, and I’m struggling to master snippets of the language for my choir’s current rehearsal schedule. Well done on making the short list.

  9. Tracy Fells says:

    Congratulations of the Sophie King shortlisting, Helen, I imagine there were quite a lot of entries for that one. Did you get to Berlin on your German trip? My teen son and I had a terrific visit back in 2012 – with you on the Kaffee and Kuchen, and the beer! And did you sample the currywurst?

    • Tracy, no we were quite a long way from Berlin (we were in Bonn and Cologne) but I’d like to go there one day! Never been! And no, sadly no Currywurst this time but we had just about every other type of ‘Wurst’!

  10. Congratulations on making the short story shortlist!

  11. Thanks Helen. Not a ‘major’ comp but it all helps, eh?!

  12. P. Douglas Hammond says:

    I’ll accept that about the public transport Helen, and if you said that the Germans made great bread, I’d be with you there also – but beer? As Douglas Adams wrote, ‘Yellow water with bubbles’. As for rivers, I bet the best parts of the Rhine are a long way upstream from Cologne.
    However, did you visit an ice-cream parlour? Or their tea shops? Oh what memories I have of their tea shops…knock spots of Whittards.
    Tschuss
    Peter

    • Peter.. that ‘top 5’ was just my opinion, off the top of my head! Not really meant as ‘the definitive guide to Germany’! I did live there for a year, so I feeling a wincy bit qualified to give my thoughts.. but you are, of course, entitled to yours too!

  13. philippabowe says:

    Woops, just realised I have not yet congratulated you Helen – WELL DONE for the short list and publication in the anthology!! I love the title of the story, hope we get to read it. And I’m glad your trip to Germany was enjoyable.

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