Thursday, May 19, 2011

Yearbook Distribution Day:) and Opening Your Story

It's the time of the year I most look forward to...tomorrow we hand out yearbooks!  Not to brag, but this year, the book is a thing of beauty.  All the kids are so happy with their work, and I know the school will love it.  Wish me luck getting to school by 6:40, and even more luck that my staff gets there by 7:15!

I've been on sort of a blog hiatus, skipping the last Friday, Monday, and Wednesday, but I figured it's never too late to talk about writing!

I'm going to kind of mesh two posts together.  If you are looking for an author who knows description, check out Sarah Ockler.  She's an amazing YA writer.  I just finished reading Twenty Boy Summer and now I'm on Fixing Delilah.  I love that she always starts her first chapter with an obvious problem.  It's no more than a few lines long, but it definitely hooks you.

The beginning of Fixing Delilah is:
"Claire?  It's Rachel.  I'm afraid I have some bad news."

That's it-- the whole first chapter.  Simple and intriguing.

Combine that with excellent description (and of course a good plot), and you're going places.

Here's description I marked from Fixing Delilah (thank you Kindle for making annotation easy):
(talking about leaves)

"One by one they floated and swirled and fell to my feet, and when he flashed his up-to-no-good smile with the moonlight soft and blue on his skin, I wanted to stay there forever."

Gorgeous.  I love how the reader realizes Delilah's "non-boyfriend" Finn has a naughty side.  And have you ever really noticed how someone looks at nighttime?    

I'm working on a YA novel right now called Accepting Ellie.  I keep changing and changing my beginning because the beginning is crucial...for hooking readers and for hooking agents.  Here's what I changed mine to.  Did I do a good enough job of combining interest with description?  Let me know your thoughts!  I don't know if it's okay to use "subletting" in this instance since that implies payment...

Couch surfers actually exist. There’s a whole website devoted to strangers searching for other strangers who own couches and don’t mind subletting them for free. Anyone can create a profile, pick a destination, then boom, they have an instant friend wherever they're headed. What words come to mind when I hear this, you ask? Suspicious, creepy, and axe murderer, though the website testimonies swear the experiences are fabulous, amazing, and life-changing. I’m fine sleeping on my own couch, but thanks a billion for the offer.
From Sunday afternoon to early evening, I slept on our own cozy sofa the way a person does when she’s bored and way too lazy; drifting in and out, not quite comfortable, mind blending the noises of reality into fuzzy dreams. When a sharp sword slashed through those dreams in the form of a telephone ring, my mood transitioned from peaceful to confused to just plain pissed. My mother brandished an iron in her right hand, which really meant “I’m away from my head right now; please leave a message.” Not a phone, not an exploding microwave, not even a brick through the window would tear her from her task. I shook off the clinging bits of drowsiness and answered the landline. We needed a maid for this.

(That first paragraph is inspired by Keri P., who shared with me her couch surfing experiences.  The thought freaks me out a bit, but she loves it.  She is a much braver individual than I!)

The 1st chapter goes on to discuss an unsettling phone call.  The main character's best friend has been in a car wreck and is undergoing emergency surgery.  Will she survive?  It's the beginning of their senior year and they have so many things to do, so many memories to create. 

That's all for now.  Wish me luck tomorrow.  Dinner is now calling my name.  I'll have to think of something good for the Fun Friday post that isn't Rebecca Black's song "Friday."  Ugh, if I have to hear another one of my students sing that chorus...

1 comment:

Natasha Hanova said...

I love the changes to your first chapter. WOW!