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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

WRITING WEDNESDAY IV

Writing stories is kind of like quilting. We piece together our story much like we piece together a quilt.
The blending together of different patches of cloth creates the quilt and the blending together of the characters, the setting and the story creates the manuscript.




We need to hook our reader. We need to open with a great sentence or paragraph to grab their attention.




The middle needs to keep the reader interested. It needs to be able to keep the reader turning the pages to see what happens next. Each chapter ending should make them want to go on to read the next chapter.
If we accomplish this, we are on your way to writing a great book.




However,  don't disappoint your readers with the ending. Try to make it as satisfying as the rest of the story.




All this is easier said than done, though. As writers, we need to keep trying until we get it right.
That is what molds an amateur into a professional.
They don't quit!

Now help me get it right. Which opening do you like best? Which one has the best hook?
These are two alternate openings to one of my manuscripts.

#1 OPENING
“Lucy!”
            “Yes, Ma.”
            “Get away from the window, you’ll look too anxious!”
            “I am anxious, Ma,” I confessed as I continued to stare out the window. “I’m getting married today.”
“Go fetch me some water and it’ll get your mind off the waitin’.”
“Yes, Ma,” I said as I hurried outside.          
It was a fall day in 1908. The golden yellow and russet brown leaves blew in the wind and rustled beneath my feet as I carried a bucket of cold well water back into the kitchen. I laid down the bucket, placed the long handled dipper inside and smoothed my hair in place with my hands. I always wore my hair flowing down and tied back with a simple white ribbon.  However, this morning I secured my light brown hair in a bun, hoping this grown up style would make me look older than my 16 years.
I glanced down and saw the rabbit’s foot hanging around my neck. When my little brother, Robert, gave it to me this morning, he said, “It’ll protect you from witches.”
I knew I should not believe in such things. What if James saw it? What would he think? I grabbed it and quickly tucked it inside my white blouse.

#2 OPENING

Only my parents watched me get married that Saturday afternoon in 1908.  It was a cool crisp autumn day, the leaves a golden yellow and russet brown.  They blew in the wind and rustled beneath my feet as I carried a bucket of cold well water into the kitchen. I laid down the bucket, placed the long handled dipper inside and smoothed my hair in place with my hands. I always wore my hair flowing down, tied back with a simple white ribbon.  However, this morning I secured my light brown hair in a bun, hoping this grown up style would make me look older than my 16 years. I glanced down and saw the rabbit’s foot hanging around my neck. When my little brother, Robert, gave it to me this morning, he said, “It’ll protect you from witches.” I knew I should not wear it. However, just in case, I grabbed it and quickly tucked it inside my white blouse.

Okay, is #1 or #2 your favorite? Which one grabs your interest?
Thanks and Happy Writing!


15 comments:

  1. Hi Janet, I like #2 beginning. The voice and first person pov and introspection seem right for this age group. Also, the inclusion of the rabbit foot (a secret) and Lucy's emphatic--"I knew I should not wear it," is quite chilling and suggests things for Lucy are not going to go well. It also has the whiff of a mystery about it and I wanted to read more. In the 2nd beginning, you seem to be firmly planted inside Lucy's head, but the first one lacked that intimacy. Write on!

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  2. I agree with Clara, #2 is much more effective. The dialogue in the first opening almost seems to weaken it, but ... In both openings, I really enjoyed the bit about the rabbit's foot, it adds an element of impending troubles and gives a good visual. Is there any way to bump that up to the opening line?

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  3. Janet,
    I have to say that I also liked #2 the best.
    What age group if any are you writing this for?
    Nancy Jo

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  4. Thanks for everyone's input so far. Joanne, I will think about how I might make the rabbits foot remark be the opening line. That would really grab their interest. I've always said it was upper MG,but the age of Lucy might hurt me in that category. It is only 28000 words, though, which is kind of short for a YA.

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  5. Hi Janet,
    Just wanted to let you know that I ordered the book"CHRISTMAS TRADTIONS" that you have a story in.Looks like a nice little book to keep.
    Nancy Jo

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  6. Thanks, Nancy Jo, it is filled with wonderful stories.

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  7. Hi Janet,
    Both are very good, but the voice in #2 is stronger, although in that version one word (however) didn't seem to fit with the voice.
    Keep writing. You're on the "write" track.
    donna v.
    http://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com

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  8. I'll be different and choose number 1. :o)

    Thanks for the nice comment you left on my blog, Janet. I really appreciate it! I'm off to look at your crafting posts...

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  9. I guess #2 must be the one as I see your comments supporting it. I was not influenced by the others yet I will vote for #2 also. Very good opening!
    -- barbara

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  10. Thanks everyone. It looks like #2 is ahead. That was the first way I wrote it. Donna, you are right about the word 'however.' I must have succumbed to 'Word's suggestions,' their grammar check doesn't like the word 'but' :o)

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  11. Well I must be a weird one because I liked #1 better hehehe. I liked the part about her looking out the window.

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  12. What a wonderful post...!

    And opening number one is PERFECT! Grabbed me from the beginning. The use of dialogue followed by narrative is great.

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  13. I agree that the rabbit's foot could be a great opening! Great post, Janet!

    I'm trying to re-work the opening to a new project. It's slow work for me right now.

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  14. I also think #2. I love the quilts, since I am a quilter they always catch my eye..

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