I did another writing course this last weekend. It was a master class on Refining The Manuscript, led by the amazing Toni Jordan, author of Addition
(among other great novels). Seriously, this writer knows her stuff and learning from her was a brilliant experience. We covered a whole gamut of issues you should be focussing on after that first draft is complete, like dialogue, verbs and those pesky adverbs (the scourge of the literary world), point of view, endings, and, of course, beginnings.
Now, I blogged a little about beginnings here and their importance, but what we had to do on the course was take the beginning of our MS (the first paragraph) and re-write it three different ways using a style or technique she gave us. It was such an interesting exercise and more than one of us on the course is now changing the beginning to our novel.
So, how do you all feel about me sharing the three beginnings for Shadows I wrote on the course? No? Good. I was hoping you’d say that. *wipes brow*
What? You meant yes? Darn it!
Okay. Before we start though, a disclaimer. We were given ten minutes per opening and mine appear below as they were written on Saturday, unedited (except for spelling). We also got asked to read one out to the whole group and I got to read number three. Well, here goes….
I did tell you these are unedited, right…
1. The Concrete Beginning – where you plant your reader firmly in the story and there’s no mistaking what’s happening or who it’s happening to. This is the closest to my original opening.
Alice Pond opened the door to the Kookaburra Creek Café expecting the brass bell to announce her arrival as it did every morning at precisely six-thirty-three in the morning. But when she pushed the glass door open she was met with silence. Everything else appeared to be as it should be; rainbow chairs stacked up on white tables, gingham curtains drawn, the coffee machine waiting for her over on the blue bench. It was only the absence of the loud clanging that made Alice pause. But it was enough to tell her that something was most definitely not right.
2. The Deep End – throwing the reader in with no clue as to where they are, who they’re dealing with, or what’s happening – being all mysterious like. I had to move a bit further along (to the second page) to pull this one off, and I don’t dislike it, but I’m not sure it fits with the overall tone of the MS.
She looked at the crumpled mess that lay at her feet. Was it alive? Was it breathing? She pushed it with her toe. No movement. She shoved it with her whole foot.
“What the Hell?” The crumpled mess jumped up, eyes darting left, right, arms tense, ready.
“What the Hell me?” She reached behind her for anything solid. “What the Hell you?
3. Setting – one of the hardest ways to begin because setting is generally static, and our openings should be anything but static. The challenge here is to make something static feel alive. I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Alice took the stairs in twos until she reached the deck below. The morning sun kissed the creek with soft gold glitter as it meandered through the green field and she watched the fallen gum leaves float upstream toward the white bridge. Maybe this afternoon she’d have time to dip her toes in. It would still be warm enough. She turned around and looked at the grey weatherboard building, a hand-painted sign swinging in the gentle breeze telling anyone who happened by they’d reached the Kookaburra Creek Café. Her café. After twenty years it still managed to surprise her – it was her café. She pushed the glass door open, expecting the brass bell to clang news of her arrival, but she was met with silence.
So there they are, in all their unpolished glory. I guess the only question is – what do you think? It’s okay. I can take it. *goes to buy more chocolate before reading comments*
It’s the last Wednesday of the month which means I’m hopping along with the wonderful Julie Valerie. Hop along too and discover other bloggers. Like to party? Hop along the Hump Day Blog Hop on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog. Click here to return to the Hump Day Blog Hop.