Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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November 2, 2020

Share Your Favorite Line! What's YOUR Project?

Today we are celebrating you, dear Reader. Whether you have decided to NaNo, or not to NaNo...whether you are writing a new book or the same one that's made you crazy for months, we want to hear from YOU.

You have choices!

Most of us behind the scenes here at WITS have chosen to do NaNoWriMo this year. Some of us plan to win (50K or bust!), but some of us just like to play with bunches of words and be writing cheerleaders for our pals. We've shared our NaNo projects/goals with you and, for those who feel comfortable, the first lines of our work in progress. Some of us got super brave and did both.

We invite you to do the same down in the comments!

Our Work and Goals for November


My maiden voyage...

This will be my first time on the good ship NaNoWriMo. I am a pantser with minor plotting tendencies, so to keep me from panicking I’m doing a bit more planning.

Here’s the logline I devised to guide my project:
A teenage girl who wants to define her own future discovers a strange crystal after following clues found in her grandmother’s cookbook and uses the stone to enter a portal, searching for a way out of her current life.

What else is different?

  • I usually write in third person past tense. This time I’ll be attempting first person. 
  • I’ve been writing YA historical fiction so I thought I’d go all in and change genres while I was at it. This will be YA fantasy/mystery. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
  • The working title is Crystal Memories.

First lines from The Hobo Code, the YA Historical I just finished:

Jack Schmidt ambled into the main office of the lumber mill carrying his father’s lunch pail. Sounds of rage poured through the inner office walls.


I'm doing something different for NaNo this year.

As most of you know from years past, I flipping love NaNoWriMo. I do it every year as a birthday present to myself and every year I have a love-hate relationship with the challenge. I almost never win, but I always play. Alas, November is a month packed to the rafters with must-do things.

So this year, I'm going short!

I've written a substantial number of short stories over the years that have just languished. I re-read them over the last week and my November plan is to rewrite them from scratch. I'm hoping the know-how I've picked up in these last 10-15 years will make them shine. I think one of them might even turn into a short novel.

Here is the opening lines to one of those stories, called Brotherly Love:

Boaz pushed open the door to the tiny shop and inhaled the magic that never got old. Like used bookstores, used record stores carry a distinctive smell. Plastic wrap and laminated cardboard, worn carpet and dust.

It smelled like his childhood.


I'm continuing a series I'm thrilled about.


I am writing Book 2 of a trilogy: Secrets of the Twilight Djinn. The stakes are raised in the second act and Max, the hero from the first book, discovers how little he knows of his powers, and the lengths to which the Djinn will go to destroy him and his family.

Working Title: Max and the Isle of Sanctus.

First lines from Book 1, Max and the Spice Thieves:

“Max,” Mom said, gently stroking my arm. “Come on, Little Bear, it’s time to get up.”

I cracked one eye open—it was still dark. I sighed loud and long.

“It’s too early. The sun isn’t even up. Besides, what’s the point?”


The beginning of NaNoWriMo brings me the sweaty feeling one gets before a race, the adrenalin of completing the word counts, the anticipation of the work accomplished, and the gut wrenching doubt nagging me whether I can reach my goals.

This year is a practical one for me since I don't have the mental bandwidth to sustain 30 days of creative thought. I'm interpreting the competition as a way to complete my current projects and to cheer on my writer pals along the way.

My writing goal is to rewrite 30 flash fiction stories and to curate them into an anthology of sorts. 30 stories in 30 days? *gulp*

My handle is Kmaz at Nano, come visit or let me cheer you on!

All the best,
K Maze

Now we want to hear from you! Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Is so, what are you working on? What are you working on regardless? Share your first lines below in the comments!

Best wishes for all of you as you navigate your writing this month!
from Ellen, Jenny, John, and Kris

43 comments on “Share Your Favorite Line! What's YOUR Project?”

  1. No NaNo for me - just doesn't fit my process. But know that I'm cheering y'all on from the sidelines!
    This is from my WF that my agent just (again) submitted:

    I was born to be a hippie.
    I resisted.

    1. Yeah, for cheerleaders! It seems that Nano is designed to motivate and build good writing habits, and I didn't want it to be one more thing on my to-do list. Hence, I made my goal based on my laundry list of micro stories that have been begging me to rewrite them.

      Laura, I love the first lines. Sounds like a free-spirited romp is on the horizon. I'll be on the lookout for this. 🙂

  2. Not doing Nano. Doesn't fit my process, and I'm 48K into my next novel. Requests for first lines always make me cringe, because this is still draft mode and when I go back and look at it, it's anything but enticing. On the other hand, it's good that someone makes me go back and look.

    It's series, so I hope my readers know who my character is, what the genre is, and are willing to wait a paragraph or two for some genuine conflict. But, it's still my first draft, and it's there to get the story started for me. I'll probably end up starting the book a few more paragraphs down. I'm not dissatisfied with the first page, but it might work better if I switched paragraphs around.

    Gordon Hepler took advantage of a quiet moment to enjoy a roast beef sandwich and peruse the weekly Mapleton Bee’s classified ads. Angie had, albeit reluctantly, agreed to entertain the notion of looking for a new place to live. Someplace close to her job at Daily Bread. A home for the two of them. A place they could call ours.

    1. Hi Terry, I enjoyed your first lines - cozy, homey, and why are they looking for a new place? Thanks for sharing these.

      I hesitated at sending in my first lines for the same reason - I'm working through a first big edit. It seems too early when I'm not certain yet.

  3. I am doing NaNo for the very first time. *gulp* I usually am slow and hope to let go of my inner editor and learn to write the crappy first draft.

    Logline for my project: After years working on a reality matchmaking show, can a jaded staffer find true love?

    1. Tracy, I feel your anxiety. The inner editor of whom you speak is giving me some serious smack but I managed to get through day one without editing.

      Sounds like you have a fun romance to work on. Best of luck!

    2. Hi Tracy,
      The premise sounds like a fun read. A story about a curmudgeon's game show history turned on its edge would make me turn some pages. Best of luck with the first draft. That's the draft you can have fun with - crappy or not!

    3. Tracy, I look at NaNo in two ways.

      1. It's wonderful to see so many people write with abandon - we all forget to do that sometimes when we're in the middle of the grind.

      2. It's fun to meet the local writers in your area, even if it's just virtually.

      Let go of that sweaty 50K number and embrace the scenes, pages and chapters that get you closer to your goals. At least that's what works for me. 🙂

  4. I've tried and failed at NaNo in the past, but I'm giving it a shot again, but at a lower word count goal. Like Ellen, I'm changing genres and trying my had a fantasy for my current WIP. Here's the first paragraph of the yet to be named novel:

    The first thing I remember after the sound of metal crunching and twisting, was a bright white flash—like a bolt of lightning hitting me right square in the face. I braced for the pain I knew would be eminent, but it never came. The white flash faded into a blue haze, then slowly receded into total darkness. I felt as weightless as an astronaut floating in space, but at the same time my limbs were too heavy to lift. My first conscious thought was I’m dying, quickly followed by I’m already dead.

  5. I'll be whooping and hollering from a distance this year. I'm underwater on my WIP that's coming in at 130,000 words and quickly evolving into a book duet. Too much for one novel, plenty for two. And not just sloppy extra stuff. I gotta see this pair of heroines through to their ends/beginnings. Wishing all you NaNo enthusiasts much enthusiasm!

    Current first line from the first book (The Secrets We Hide or The Secret Thief):

    Vivienne Sheridan had bellied up to the bad-choice buffet for the last time. At least that’s what she told herself as she buckled her airline seatbelt.

    She was sure her life was deteriorating faster than she could lower her standards. She’d tangled with good guys and bad boys, bookish nerds and brawny bikers. She sewed her own clothes, lived with her great-grandmother and poured coffee for strangers.

    1. Hi Christopher,
      This sounds like a good series - The Bad-Choice Buffet. hee hee

      I'm not a fan of getting rushed, either, especially if you already have the storylines in front of you. 130,000 words is a lot of work! Good luck with pulling out the threads of your stories.

    2. Wow, it became two books? That's wonderful! Fantastic first line!! And Margie would tell you to go even more active - "Her life was deteriorating faster than she could lower her standards."

      I can't wait to see where these books end up. 🙂

      1. Jenny, thanks for the Margie "nugget." I can't wait to get the first draft done so I can go back in to tighten it up and add the frosting. And my trove of Margie-wisdom nuggets will really come out to play!

  6. This is my seventh NaNo, and I probably love doing it more now than when I did the first one. Each one has become more exciting, my process better honed, and me more comfortable. I'm a FAST drafter, which is possible because of my flexible narrative outline. In other words, I plan to be flexible.

    Given all that, most of my lines tend to be rather bland at this point. The one that I had going in is the opening line so I'll share that.

    This is a fantasy noir mystery set in an alternate world…

    "Talma Loyal was driving her roadster to her first crime scene as her new self, unless she counted the night she was strapped to a madman’s table."

  7. I'm doing NaNoWriMo for the first time. My new novel is the coming of age story of a 16-year-old boy in Oregon in 1864. I spent most of October plotting the novel, but the most I've ever written in a month was 20k words. IN TWO DAYS I'VE WRITTEN OVER 9k!

    The plotting has definitely helped, but the other thing that helps is not stopping to research. I write historical fiction, and there are too many reasons to stop and research picky points, like what was the name of a general store in Oregon City in 1864.

  8. I'm turning NaNo on its head and have set editing goals. For each element I need to edit in my fantasy romance I'm claiming 10,000 token words. I have 5 elements (like the magic, the romance, etc) = 50,000 words. My opening lines (yeah, still a work in progress): “Why now, Boo, at the worst possible time in my life?” Willow ducked as a saucer flew by her ear and smashed against the kitchen wall. She leaped to her feet from the chair. “Take cover. The chaos is happening again.”
    Good luck to all NaNo participants! Now back at it!

  9. I'm not doing Nano. I'm editing the 85,000-word manuscript for what I hope will be my first historical novel. I have formatted for e-book self-publication and now I'm proofreading a 350-page collection of the local history columns I wrote for a newspaper from 2006 through 2012. There are too many projects I want to work on and too many books I want to read! Best wishes to all of you who are participating in Nano!

  10. Not doing NaNo, but it is on my bucket list...

    This is the beginning of a book I started drafting when my completed novel was locked in my last laptop when it died. (I got the files back, but haven't started editing.)

    Location is unspecified, because it only appears in first chapter of the story. But it's a school in New England, maybe Franklin Pierce.

    Sunday night shots seemed like a fantastic idea at the time. Everyone crowded into Jen and Jenna’s living room at the end of their row—Party Central for the block of junior/senior Campus apartments. Tales from winter break were the usual round of family gatherings and drama; peak-season ski trips; and long-distance romance break-ups.
    Grace yanked off a mitten and fought the front door lock with her key; she squeezed her eyes shut at a beam of bright winter sun and a blast of arctic air assaulting her forehead. Hungover was no way to start the first Monday of Second Semester.

  11. NaNo is definitely a no, no for me. I have worked on my novel for four years and at 103,000 words, recently became aware it would not work as a single novel. I have now split it into two novels.

    The first untitled, but 'Ursula' is 48,500 words, and the second 'Damien' is 62,500 words and I expect both to be at least 120k words before editing. These are my two main characters, but any of the three other characters within each novel, have in-depth stories of their own.

    I am collating the time-lines writing at times the same scene, but from a different perspectives.

    Ursula is a young adult (approx 18/19) in the final months in Germany WWII to 1946. She is a strong Nationalist and the story charts her change.

    Damien is ex-2nd Commando Lieutenant, late 1944 to 1946, injured at Arnhem and suffers PTSD. He is recruited with his Sergeant for MI6, and undercover with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association.
    Ursula First Line: (first draft)
    Ursula watched the flood of refugees from the workshop window, as they fled south from the advancing Russians, hoping for clemency from a less barbaric enemy.
    Damien's First Line (first draft opens with his sergeant)
    The faint strains from the piano in the Ship Inn, were the only sound on the deserted London Street.
    Roan Sharpe opened the door and pushed his way through the heavy blackout curtain, his senses immediately assailed by the noise, smoke and smell of hops. It was a long time, years in fact, since he was last home.

  12. I'm going to try to complete the first draft of middle-grade ghost story set in Orkney. My first line: The witch came for my sister on the dank October day we buried our grandmother, sea-mist rising from the sound so thick we could no longer see the Holy Isle, as if a curtain had been drawn between us and the world.

  13. No-no, NaNo this year. (I've been too sick lately, but I'm finally starting to improve.) But I did work a bit on a Christmas short story recently, and I'll share a line from it! Not my favorite line, but a nice tease for the story set a winter holiday festival: "The scent of fresh pastries wafted toward me before I saw the sign on the next booth: Baba’s Buns. I got in line behind two humans and an elf, not that the humans had any idea an elf was between them."

  14. I think this is my seventh year in Nano. I've produced 3 books and a ton of novellas. Still not published but theres always 2021. Its probably because I haven't submitted anything. I jump around in Genres but usually come back to SFF. This years Nano Log Line of working title "Cavels Colt""

    Trena, at fourteen, has been given the gift of SIGHT from Cavel, the Horse God. She will need to reveal the purpose of this gift, leaving her village and traveling to far off lands to become the battle warrior she was meant to be.

    My handle is JLNIckymaster, feel free to buddy me.

    First line of my ongoing novel.

    “Children of the clan, come listen to the tales of the favored.” An old man’s voice, hoarse and brittle, scratched across the air and penetrated the walls of endless chatter and festival atmosphere noise.

    I posted more of this sample on the Nanowrimo site.

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