I'm looking at the title up there, unsure if that's what they used to call it. Maybe you younger people didn't experience this hallmark of grammar school like I did. It's where you found something at home to take to school. Usually on a Friday, after lunch, when the teacher had had enough (though this insight comes to me as an adult.) One by one, we would all take our turns going to the front of the class where we would reveal what treasure we had brought from home and tell something about it.
What does this have to do with writing? Er...nothing.
Wait, maybe it does. I mean, sometimes you had something stunning to bring and you planned and plotted that heart stopping moment of unveiling. You thought about what words you would use and anticipated your audience's gasp of amazement as they joined you in celebrating the wonderfulness of your discovery.
And sometimes, you had nothing. Literally nothing. Sometimes you stood in your bedroom and frantically pirouetted, teeth biting lower lip, palms sweaty as you tried to glom onto something that would do. That rock? Nope, did a rock before. That doll? No, the boys smirk when someone brings a doll. But I can't take nothing. I have to share SOMETHING!
So, you took the damn rock and did your best to dress it up as a chipped arrowhead from some fancy car trip to Idaho or a shard of petrified dinosaur bone.
You made stuff up and kind of hoped the teacher was dozing off during your turn.
So, while we have talked about beginnings of books before, let's do it again. Let's show and tell. Paste in the beginning of an unpublished book. Make it the first paragraph, say. Some people write a single line followed by a paragraph -- if that's what you have done, send both.
And then answer these questions (and any other that occur to you):
1. Did you struggle with it or did it come easily?
2. Did you find yourself editing it before you stuck it in? In other words, knowing it was going to be seen by the millions of people who daily read out blog, did you make changes that you didn't see being needed before placing it here under this spotlight?
3. In retrospect, do you think you accomplished your goal of hooking a reader right off the bat (assuming that's your goal) or does it get really good a few lines further down the page? Is there a way to move that really good part closer to the top? Show and tell how you think you should do this, please.
Here is mine from the second book in the current proposal:
Joey Ryder was ready to call it quits. Two days of lurking around in the cold, snapping pictures of old buildings, old streets and old ranchers had left her stiff and grumpy. Skulking behind fences, loitering in alleys, ducking behind garbage cans -- what was she doing here?
1. This beginning is essentially the same as it's been since day one, only the words have been written and rewritten dozens of times. That's not a struggle in my book, that's just writing. A struggle means the book started somewhere else, in someone else's POV, at a different time in the story, etc. So this one was not a struggle.
2. I am resisting the urge to rewrite it though it did seem better back in the book then it does here!
3. I have no idea if I hooked a reader. If anyone can tell me, I'd appreciate it.
I truly love reading the openings of books and only wish Danita's computer hadn't blown up (we all know how much of herself she puts into the start of a book) and that more of our members dropped by to join the fun. Whether you're a member or not, if you are reading this, feel welcome to show and tell what you're working on.
Finally, I have to ask you all, did you like my rock? It's an unpolished diamond, honest.