Posts Tagged ‘beginning’ Archive

The First 312 Words

Gabi Lessa is having a fabulous contest on her blog in honor of her birthday!

Here are the rules if you’d like to join!

  1. Visit her blog to sign up for the contest. You have until noon on Saturday, March 12th, to sign up.
  2. The contest is open for everyone. You can enter either a finished manuscript or a work in progress.
  3. Post the first 312 words of your manuscript on your blog. Just the first 312! It doesn’t matter if it ends mid-sentence, that’s ok. But please be sure to count! 312 words, not one more, not one less!
  4. When you post your entry, post your title, your genre and your manuscript’s status (finished or in progress).

So…here’s Rupert!

TitleRupert Reginald Robinson, the ninth & the House Next Door
GenreMiddle Grade
StatusWIP
First 312 Words:

Rupert Reginald Robinson clutched a thick book to his chest, his forehead rested against the glass of the backseat car window.  The car bumped across the road.  His head slid to a new place and left a smudge of grease on the glass.

“Ouch,” he said as his head whacked against the glass for a third time.  He released his book and rubbed his forehead with two fingers.

In his left hand he gripped a baseball.  The ball was worn and frayed as if a dog had chewed on the red bindings.  As the car bounced down the road the ball rotated around, his fingers moved methodically so the ball was always in motion.

Rupert placed his head back against the glass and looked out onto the street.  At the corner stood Bobby.

Bobby was the school bully.  A small grey rat rode on his shoulder.  This rat was his favorite form of torture.  Bobby would hide it in kids’ lockers to scare them.  He scowled when he saw Rupert spying him through the glass.

“Aunt Miriam?”  Rupert asked and looked up to the front seat.

“Hmm?”  Miriam kept her eyes on the road.

“Are we almost there?”

“No Rupert, we are not almost there.  Do not ask again.”

Rupert turned back to stare out the window.

Beside him, his cousin sat in a booster seat playing with dolls.  She hummed quietly to herself as the dolls clicked against each other.  Rupert could hear her lips moving as she silently talked to herself

“Mom? Are we there yet?” Delilah asked absentmindedly.

“We’ll be there in just a few minutes, sweetie.”  Miriam said and reached back to pat her daughter on the knee.

Rupert rolled his eyes.

The car came to a halt in their driveway and Delilah began to squirm in her seat.  She quickly dropped both her dolls to the car…

The First Paragraph

I have always had a hard time writing the beginning of stories, mostly because of a conflict I have: I have always been torn between how I want a story to begin and how I think it should begin.

I feel and believe that a first paragraph should be clean and simple.  It should make the audience ask a question and also give the promise that all questions will be answered if the rest of the piece is read.  The question shouldn’t be, ‘what on earth are they trying to write about?’  The writing should be clear, not wordy, so that the reader absolutely understands what is being written.  Know, that I mean the reader understands not the answers to questions raised, but the writing in and of itself.

On the other hand, I have thought a first paragraph should be eloquent and make great use of vocabulary – in a sense, wordy.  It should be interesting – maybe an exciting event or action scene.  It does not have to stand alone.

Nathan Bransford, a writer and past agent, is holding a challenge on his blog.  The challenge is to write a first paragraph, that paragraph is posted in the comments section of the blog entry and very cool prizes are awarded to the winner. Definitely check it out, his blog in general is pretty awesome (www.nathanbransford.com).

This is the paragraph I wrote this morning while straightening my hair:

The soup was poisoned. Henry knew it. He watched as she carefully lifted the spoon to her lips, tasted it with her tongue, and then let the concoction slide down her throat. With childish glee, he wondered how long it would take her to die.

I like this paragraph because it is simple and clean.  It raises great questions (who is Henry and who is the woman? Did Henry poison the woman? Why does someone want her to die?) These are easy questions for the reader to develop and also there is the potential for very interesting answers.  It maybe not be an action sequence, but it still grabs the readers attention.

Anyways, I’m not sure what most people think a first paragraph should be like, but I think I’ll stick to my idea of clean and simple writing.

I also challenge you all to write a paragraph AND post it here – if you feel so inclined!