Thursday, May 8, 2014

That Pesky First Paragraph Starts the Trouble

I wrote previously about sitting in a class and hearing an instructor discuss the importance of the opening paragraph, and then rewriting the first paragraph of the first book in my Jolie Gentil series. The new version was much better, and a couple of reviewers commented on it.  One said it really drew them in, another said it was the best part of the book. Ouch.

Here is the first part of the seventh book, Vague Images, which I have been very slow to finish. I'm beyond all reasonable excuses.
  • If it hadn’t been for the deer that ran in front of my car I wouldn’t have hurt my foot jamming on the brakes. If I hadn’t hurt my foot I wouldn’t have gone to Ocean Alley’s hospital. If I hadn’t been in the hospital I wouldn’t have seen him. Not that I could follow him. I was on my butt in the emergency room.
Several thoughts could come to mind when someone reads this. The obvious one is who has Jolie seen and why does she seem to want to follow him? Then there's what happened to the deer? And finally, who is so clumsy they hurt their foot jamming on the brakes?

I do quickly make it clear the deer escaped Jolie's car. Hurting an animal in a book is kind of like a horse getting shot in a western movie. Both are major turn-offs, and the first few paragraphs are meant to entice readers, not make them feel sorry for an animal or be mad at me for hurting one. 

Jolie doesn't immediately find the person she wants to pursue. She does find a body pretty quickly, and the book works on two tracks from there. They converge, but my struggle has been bringing the two plot lines together seamlessly. Several times I've thought I was 'there,' only to find my solution was too clumsy.

A couple of days ago the link became less ungainly, and the final chapter is coming together. It has to, because I've written the opening paragraph for the next book.

No animal was harmed in writing this blog post. And I'm the dork who sprained a foot jamming on the brakes.

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