Monday, September 17, 2007

Donica's Day

My lovely fellow Mavens felt as if I was getting the short shrift because they each had an individual day to post while I only posted the T13. I thought that very sweet of them to think of me. The only trouble is I have enough trouble coming up with my own blog posts so what can I do to keep them separate topics?

I admit I’m totally, terrifyingly stumped. Do I post about writing tips? Books that I’ve read? (Okay that one is probably out since I barely have time to read the stuff that I write.) Do I blog about my personal life? My likes, my dislikes, things that I absolutely hate and have no tolerance for? How about a mindless rambling post covering absolutely nothing? (Gee, isn’t that what I’ve done so far?)

I think I’ll try some writing tips.

A few years ago I offered a “class” to a writing group I was a member of. There had been an RWA conference coming up and many of us were going to be left behind so I organized a virtual conference and had classes taught by some amazing “teachers” (I like to think I qualify to fit into my own column of amazing. Don’t deflate my ego too much, please?)

The classes I taught were Cracking Openings, Writing Suspense, and Promoting Yourself. So I think I’ll just spent the next few weeks offering you a variety of tips and yes folks this IS interactive. Any comments you wish to make. Any answers you choose to give are ALL welcomed. Simply post a comment! (I'm also availble for on line classes, kids parties and stag parties. All thought make sure I have the correct information noted. It would be embarrassing if I popped out of a cake at little Johnny’s sixth birthday party...)

On with the show…

Hooking. (No, not that kind!) It’s what you want to do to the reader. You want an opening tht will grab them tight and never let them go. How does one do that? I’ll be using my own works as examples. (How’s that for shameless plugging?)

I have scoured the Internet looking for wonderful writing tips and the main thing that has stuck with me is that you only have 10 seconds, (10 seconds!)to grab an editors attention.

Your opening lines have to be compelling. In that mere 10 seconds you should make the editor want to read more. Any openings that are overused will most likely be deleted from memory. The two most overused are: waking up in bed and traveling to the location of the story. There are editors who will see this as the author’s inability to be original. (There are ways of doing so; it’s all in the execution. We’ll discuss executions later.)

First the usual: all materials presented in this blog are copyrighted. All excerpts and ideas noted herein fall under this copyright umbrella. All pirates will be court-martialed at dawn and required to walk the plank in minutes upon being judged guilty. Thank you.

Okay here is the opening of Gateway Guardians Book One: Callye’s Justice.

“Where the hell is that ambulance?” Justice Bernard shouted again above the wailing of the sirens. In the flashing strobe lights around him, he looked down into Cas’s pale face. “Don’t you dare leave me, you hear me, Callye Ann Simone? I need you, damn it.”

The blood was pooling beneath his arms as it seeped from the many cuts slashing her small frame. Bruising in colors ranging from violet to angry black and green dotted her face and arms. His stomach clenched in fear.

“We need the medics now," he shouted again. Was anyone even hearing him? Why the hell didn’t someone come for her?

Uniforms raced around him, but all he could see was Cas. “Damn it, Cas, please hang on.” Her pulse was so weak. They couldn’t be too late. This just couldn’t be happening. He’d just gotten her back. He couldn’t lose her now.

“The ambulance just arrived, sir.”

“‘Bout damn time,” he growled as the paramedics rolled the stretcher up to them. The flashing lights of the emergency vehicles cast strange shadows on the faces of the medics seemed to wear masks of death. He pressed the morbid thought from his mind.

They pushed him to the side while they assessed the damage done to Cas. Justice battled the tears that pricked his eyes. All his fault. How the hell could he let this happen to her?

You put up such a hell of a fight, don’t give up now. The tears slid down his cheek and he gave them a hard brush. “Please baby, hang on.”

Were you able to read that in 10 seconds? Did it make you want to know what happened?
The opening hook should leave you asking questions. Those questions should be able to drive the reader on, wanting to know what was coming next.

Here are a few more openings. (Here's where the interactive part comes in!) Read them and decide for yourself which ones are hookers and which ones are tossers.

This is taken from a book in progress, Nursery Crimes:

The hand encased in the black leather glove clutched the photograph convulsively. Slowly the gun was raised, target spotted and a shot squeezed off. The hunter watched as the bullet hit its mark between the eyes of the man and the body crumpled to the ground. Walking over to the body, the hunter touched a flame to the photograph and dropped the burning picture onto the groin of the dead man. Smiling, the hunter turned and walked away.

Here is a second one from my soon to be submitted Save the Last Song for Me:

The pretty little brunette slumped in front of him. Her molasses brown hair mated to her face. Blood oozed from the places her hands and feet had once been attached to her body. Her body was slit from her throat to her groin. The skin, bone and muscle peeled back exposing the mass of internal organs. Her brown eyes slid open and blood bubbled from her lips. “Save me,” Minnie Winsten begged.

Dax Stone jerked out of bed, sweat sheeting his body, expelling hard panting breaths. God would it never end? The string of dead bodies left in the wake of the mad man who made Jack the Ripper look like the Santa Claus was enough to make the most seasoned hard asses on the department unable to get the images from their minds.

Here is your third offering from A Love for All Ages:

Roberta Little Deer stood on the balcony. Church was over and people mingled with each other on their way out the doors. The man below her looked so familiar. He had graying blond hair and was tall. He was wearing a brown suit. He stood shifting from foot to foot while he spoke to the minister. She squeezed her bible. She was breathless. She could only stare.

And number four Heart of the Jungle:

Larkin Davis flew to Kenya. She had lost her parents when she was only a teenager and had bounced from foster care to foster care until the system kicked her out at eighteen. Life had been hard and she’d had to scrimp and save every dime. She took dozens of lousy jobs, jobs that she hated, jobs she wasn’t proud of, but she’d finally made it out to school, and when she’d purchased her first camera she felt the bug bite. The shutterbug had left its mark and she went from place to place searching for the job that would pay her to take pictures.

Which ones made you want to know more? Were there any that left you flat? You have to leave the editors/readers asking questions, looking for more, more and still more. One word of note: NEVER answer a question without asking another one. You give it all away and they’ll stop reading before they’ve hit the end.

So I would love to see some interaction. Also opinions would be GREAT! Do want to see more of these lesson like tips? If you don’t run screaming “NO! PLEASE NO!” I’ll assume you want these to continue.

Have a wonderful week all!

1 comment:

Ciara Gold said...

I think you picked a great topic to expand upon. I enjoyed your thoughts, Donica.

I would add - never start a scene or chapter with the weather. Too often I see this done and it's done so much that it's trite. :-)