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Thursday, May 3, 2012

MAKING YOUR OPENING SENTENCES FLOW


I've spent 6 days on the first two paragraphs of my latest short story. I'm close to getting them the way I want. They're not quite there yet. I want them to flow. I want the reader to slide into the story without realizing he is being taken for a ride. I want him/her to feel as if they are floating with the current on smooth seas, not fighting against it, which means, I want to give the reader as much information as I can, enticing him to continue reading, but not overloading him with too much information.
Let me show you what I mean.
Here are the first few sentences from my story before editing:
One day I came home and found a man lying on my living room rug. Ordinarily, this would have been a delightful surprise, but my discovery was far from normal. The man was dead!
Here is the new version:
I went for a walk one morning, and when I returned, I found a handsome man stretched out on my living room rug. I’m gay, so ordinarily this would have been a delightful surprise. But this incident turned out to be far from delightful. This guy was dead!
The second version gets into far more detail than the first. It explains why the narrator left his house in the first place. (He went for a walk.) It gives a slight description of the man on the floor. (He was handsome.) It lets the reader know that the narrator is gay. (An important point and one that needs to be mentioned early on as it sets the tone for the remainder of the story.)
I hope this gives you an idea of what I find is important in the opening lines of a story. Any further thoughts or comments on this subject would be greatly appreciated. Remember: I’m not through editing and I can use your help!