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Young Writers Society
Having Trouble with Opening
Sat Dec 03, 2011 7:06 am
Hey everyone! I'm just climbing out of the Writers' Block Hole and reworking a story that I've had going for years now. Thing is, I - like so many of us - am having trouble with getting the story going. I know where it's going and where it gets good, but how can I get the reader to get that far in if my opening is shotty? So could you take a peek at these alternate openings for the same story? Thanks! (p.s. I'm copy/pasting so sorry if the format's a little out of whack)
1.) October Louisa Wade was invisible. Or at least, she liked to think so. There was a certain freedom, she sometimes thought, in the way unseeing eyes roved past her. And it was times like these that she thanked the stars for it.
People bustled past her, chattering with excitement that she didn’t feel. She cursed herself for forgetting as she stared up at the sign. Parent Day, it read, in bold, blue letters. She had avoided Parent Day for as long as she could remember, but it had somehow slipped past her. Sighing, she swung her leg back over her bike and heaved her weight against one pedal, then the other. Weaving through the swarming parking lot, she sucked in a hot breath of August air to clear her head of any lingering sorrow that may’ve lurked in her chest. Gaining speed, her dark hair lifted from her shoulders and soon the school and all it held was far behind her, almost forgotten itself. Now October’s mind was locked on something else, something just over the hill she was crowning.
She smiled to herself as she sped toward a town nestled in the valley of a lush strain of mountains. Below her sat book stores, clothing shops, restaurants, even ice cream, but she would blaze by it all to coast across Baker Creek Bridge to an old, decrepit house. .......
2.) A shiver crept down October’s spine and the comfortable library air conditioning was suddenly not so comfortable anymore.
“Five years?!” she gasped to herself.
Her eyes poured over the harsh computer screen before her. On it was a picture of a dog kennel and the story of the boy who lived in it.
Nausea twisted her gut as she finished the article for the second time. Stunned, she sagged back into her chair. This could not be a true story, could it? No way... Yet there was the picture. Bars, filthy and rusted, had housed a boy not much younger than her for five years. She couldn’t even get her mind to imagine that, but her gut was panicking.
Standing, October tried to shake off the story, but it squirmed its way into her chest and settled. Her heart raced. Her breath came faster and faster.
The giant ceiling of the public library loomed over her like an evil omen. She had to get out, she had to breathe. Her footsteps echoed as she hurried toward the doors. As she pushed the door open, hot air flooded around her, stealing away what breath she had hoped to catch.
Barely acknowledging her own actions, she pulled her bike from the rack and swung her leg over it. Soon, she was cruising down the side of the road, struggling to throw her panic to the wind. Breathe in. Breathe out. Calm down. Let go.
The farther she got from the city, the better she felt. The wind that blew past her ears and lifted her dark hair stripped away her fear. But without that terror filling her, she felt oddly hollow and broken. She shook her head and tried to ignore it.
It wasn’t long before October reached the top of hill that overlooked a wide river and a little nest of businesses. Food, music, books and clothes all awaited her in the small valley, but she would bypass them all and ride across Baker Creek Bridge to an old almost-abandoned house.
“You’ve got to be kidding me," October groaned aloud as she stood in the courtyard of Young High amongst dozens of happy families.
How could she have forgotten Parents’ Day? The one day out of the year that families came to compete with other families in Olympic games. The one day out of the year where it was obvious that she was alone.
October wondered at the heaviness in her chest. Why did it hurt to stand there alone? How could you miss someone you’d never met? It made no sense but she did miss her parents. Whenever she asked Grandmother about them, all she would say was that they were angels. She took that to mean that they had died and Grandmother was forced to raise her.
She shook her head to clear it of painful thoughts and tried to focus. There was no way she would sit through the games today. She would skip like she had so many times before. No one would notice. No one ever noticed.
Dodging the families pouring in from the parking lot, October hopped back onto her bike and started out towards the city. As she grew farther away, the pain seemed to fade and she began to feel free. It was as if the air blowing past her ears and lifting her dark hair was also stripping the tenderness from her heart, leaving her happy and light. She even started to sing as she weaved through the neighborhoods surrounding the school.
It wasn’t long before she reached the top of the hill that overlooked the river and the little shops nestled in the foothills. Fast food, music, bookstores, clothing and coffee all awaited her in the valley but she would cruise past them all and ride across Baker Creek Bridge to an old almost-abandoned house.
Okay, so which one grabs you the most (Betcha can't guess which one is three years old!)? Or do you have any suggestions? Appreciate ya!
I go to seek a Great Perhaps...
Sat Dec 03, 2011 7:25 am
I'm definitely gonna go with choice #1. To back up my choice, I'd rather just say why I
like the other two.
In the second clip, there's no real action happening, nothing unique that really catches me. It's definitely not opening material, and if it was an opening, I'd really discourage the info dump of the boy in the kennel. If it's a plot twist, then wait until you can twist it; don't give it in the opening.
As far as the third, it's a bit immature, in my head. Yes, you pull the old card of
BAM--RIght In The Action (RITA)
, but then you mentally vocalize why she hates the action around her. You even give us a huge info dump about her missing/dead parents, and it serves as a huge turn-off right off the bat. So yeah. Choice #1.
As a general tip, try to be more subtle in places. Give the reader just enough to keep up. But write the novel like you, yourself, don't know what's going on. And you learn things naturally, as the reader will.
The biggest mistake I made was believing that if I cast a beautiful net, I’d catch only beautiful things.
You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
— Anne Lamott
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