Chapter Eight. Show me your first lines!

Hope you all had a productive weekend and have something to share. If you’re going to DragonCon, my tentative schedule is up at the website. Events

I’m up to chapter Eight, and back in Natalie’s POV. It’s the first chapter of a new day, which necessitates a bit more finesse. I can’t just jump right in with action as I like to without first telling the reader that this is a new day, either by hinting that it will be at the end of the last chapter, or putting enough clues in the beginning of this one that it’s easy to figure out.

Nat is alone, which makes it hard to get dialog in there. To get around that, I have her think something instead, and then the phone rings. Starting with a ringing phone is actually a no-no, but since the call is not a “life-changing moment” or being used for tension, I can get away with it.

Nat punched in the guest key code at the gate, her attention lifting to the fifteen-foot stone wall that surrounded the entire multi-acre compound as the black ironwork slid back and granted her access. She couldn’t help but notice that the mature trees had been trimmed away from the wall with nothing overhanging. To keep things in, or things out? she wondered as she drove through, her Jeep’s tires popping on the road’s gravel before hitting the smoother, new pavement of the long, winding drive.

Her phone hummed, and seeing it was Larry, she scrambled for it. “Hi, Larry,” she blurted before he could say anything. “You can not cancel on me today. I have to have that tree out this morning.”

So, I’ve showed you mine. Show me yours!

P.S. The bunny is tiny. He still has his white star!



Filed under Drama Box

41 responses to “Chapter Eight. Show me your first lines!

  1. Thank you, Kim, perhaps I will when I edit… chapter eight is a bit dialog-heavy already with quite a bit of action but I think I need to expand on her impatience beforehand.

  2. I published my first book, The Finder of the Lucky Devil, in June and I’ve already got demands to get my second book out already and so I took a crack at my prologue this morning:

    Justin Masterson rushed up his drive, fumbling with the keys in his hand. The stupid light over the door didn’t kick on as he approached and it made it twice as hard to find the front door key. His trembling, sweating hands didn’t help any and he about screamed in frustration when the pile of keys dropped in a jangle mess onto the front stoop.

    Checking his voice at the last second, he instead vented his frustration on the doorbell instead.

    • Congrats on the published book, Megan. That’s wonderful.
      This is a good start. I get a good feeling for Justin’s mood, as well as the time of day. Hard to do in a few sentences.

    • Megan Mackie

      I was just looking through the other entries and responses and I realized I jumped in on a different kind of project, is it alright that I sent you my first line of my prologue here? I see that most people are on Chapter 8 and that you’re going chapter by chapter? My marketing team was telling me I needed to start blogging to build my brand and to check out what other authors are doing, when I came across yours. Since you’re one of my influences I was like, ‘cool I can show Kim Harrison some my writing’ But in my enthusiasm I should have done more reading about what you were doing.

    • No, it’s okay, Megan. Just as long as the paragraphs are the first couple of whatever chapter. The exercise is first paragraphs and their strengths and weaknesses.

  3. Ted Miller

    Chapter 8 An Unexpected Party
    Rational Beings almost always make irrational choices…”


    It is late in the day, and the sun begins to disappear over the ridge as final preparations for the evening’s feast commence..
    Several gypsy men vanish into the woods soon returning carrying large armfuls of wood which they stack into a teepee shape, then ignite the pile to create creating a smoky crackling and cheerful bonfire.

    • This is good, Ted. I would normally say there’s a lot of tell, and not enough show, but I have a feeling that this is your style since there is no hint of a main character. Aloof.

  4. Some day I’ll make it to Dragon Con! Ever since I read about it in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series, I’ve wanted to go!

    This is Ch. 2 of my WIP Blood Ties. Since I have no idea what’s it’s like to teleport, hopefully I’ve somewhat got it down!

    Every atom in my body seemed to stretch and squeeze through a tube of space and time. I still wasn’t used to teleporting, and it was a bit disorienting as my cells unscrambled and came back together. When my feet touched the floor, the darkness receded and the library came into focus.

    “Well, look who’s back,” Kaige said as I materialized in front of him. He set down his copy of GQ. “I didn’t think Odin would’ve let you leave so soon.”

    My body felt loose after being stretched like a rubber band; I tried to compact myself by squatting down and squeezing my knees to my chest. “I convinced him to let the Valkyrie come here to train.”

    His brow rose. “Really? Where?”

    Trying to keep a straight face, I said, “Ryk’s.”

    Kaige laughed. “I hope you talked to him first.”

    “Nope. He doesn’t have a clue.”

    • Tonya, I really like this. You have a great mix of description, dialog, and with the small bits of action, ground me in the main character’s head. Well done.

  5. CH-6
    The relief that washed over Councilor Oni Zucka hit her like cold water on a scorching hot day. The “teen” finally gave up fighting her. Oni was tired, but not entirely exhausted. It was like using a muscle that hadn’t been worked in awhile. The other two teens, the boy and girl with blond hair, were easy to overcome. They had passed out in the few minutes that Oni and the ambassador had arrived.

    • I like the description you start with, Andreah. You tell us Oni is tired, and have a great description of an unused muscle, but without an actual action to show it, it doesn’t have as much impact. Perhaps add a stretch or pull, or some action to connect with the reader on a deeper level.

  6. overseerhobbit

    So much talent in all of these posts. Inspiring and intimidating.

    When those who watch grow weary and fail to see
    “Past evils shall return to hunt.”
    Chapter One No Rest for the weary.
    At the end of a long and tiring day young Kaleb stuffs himself inside of a rough, woolen sleep sack, and quickly drifts away destination: dreamworld.
    Blissfully snoring and snoozing —— lost deep inside of pleasant dreams his happy grin twists into a sullen frown as his precious sleep is disturbed by the onset of a hammer’s constant clanging.

  7. Once we’d got past the inevitable critiquing of Raisa and Lavran’s methods of dispatch, because there is nothing the Kyndred do so well as to coach each other on the finer points after the fact, we tried to decide what was best to do next.

    – The Shades of Winter

  8. Chapter 3

    A week later, Rachel waited for Monsignor Rhodes to arrive. Her hands were full of news articles, maps, and various documents. The lack of sleep made her eyelids droop, but she was feeling confident and a little angry. She was angry at Elizabeth for doing this to their lives. It was selfish she knew, but she was still angry. It was not possible to turn her back on such malevolence, and by all accounts, even though Elizabeth had been contained, the servants she had made were still active.

    • This puts me right in Rachel’s mind, Angie, and I like it. I’m sure you get to the setting in the next paragraph or so, but one line about where she is will help ground the reader. You have most of it with her hands being full of news articles, maps, and documents, but just a few more words will set the scene even better. Standing outside his door? Sitting in his office?

  9. Retaliation – Chapter Eight

    After Freya’s remarkable breakfast, Ody left her to wander the halls of the Underground on her own. She forgot the cave system was the size of the entire town, but there had to be tunnels that extended further. With just a candle in her hand for light, she ventured off to explore. The rooms closest to the main common area were used for sleeping. The farther she went into town, the emptier they became. Ody wondered how much of this maze was truly explored. How many people in the past hundreds of years took up residency here and why? She remembered people of magic were forced to hide and thrive down there during the great war on their own, but what about before? Who would make a city underground?

    • This is a good start, Mel. You’ve got some great descriptions. I’m wondering if you might try to rewrite it and just dump us in with her gripping a candle, afraid she’s gotten lost in the maze, and then give us the rest of the info in bits and pieces as you go from there. We don’t really need to know first off about the breakfast and being left to her own devices. The strong point of this paragraph is the empty maze. Start with that, and work back.

    • Your writing tips mean the world to me. Thank you for your help and inspiration.

      Ody rounded another cave corner wishing she had a piece of chalk to mark the way back. Torches hung close to the roof, but she gave up trying to light them. She could wield energy to make tiny flames for now, like the one attached to the candle she clutched in her hand and regretted it the further she ventured from the common area to places she didn’t remember or never been to. Next time, if her powers weren’t developed enough, she would bring a torch. The cave system was the size of the entire town, but there had to be tunnels that extended further. The rooms closest to the common area were once used for sleeping. The further she walked into town, the emptier they became. How much of this maze was truly explored? How many people in the past hundreds of years took up residency there and why? People of magic were forced to hide and thrive down there during the great war on their own, but what about before? Who would make a city underground?

    • I appreciate you listening, Mel. Just remember that I’m only seeing a tiny portion of your work, and you are your own best critic. I like what you have here. I can see her moving through the emptiness.

    • And the bunny is adorable!!!

  10. Amber

    Chapter 8 – and back to the nightmares.

    I must go to Dragoncon one day! (And I have a little bunnt living in my living room!)

    Jess walked up the path through the gardens, leading to the castle’s main doors. She stopped with a frown and looked around. Something wasn’t normal. The intense feelings of terror that normally colored her nightmares about this place were gone. This felt different, but not wrong.

    There was a strange tone to her dreams, one that she had a hard time naming. If she had to, ‘hope’ was the closest emotion she could name. She looked around and saw a bird, with a bright orange breast, perched on one of the hedge animals. It watched her with its black eyes glinting in the sun. She smiled and saw a flash of movement, catching a smaller bird, this one brown and gray, flitting down to land beside the bird with the orange breast. Together, they looked at her curiously before flitting off and disappearing further into the garden.

    • This is great, Amber. I try not to say much about dreams/nightmares, because they are all in your head, anyway, but if this one is truly different, you might want to make it stand out more by her telling us why it feels odd. Colors deeper? Smells? The light? Tell us more than “hope.”

      I’m liking your chapters all starting with dreams. I don’t think that’s been done before.

    • Amber

      Thank you, Kim! I’ll definitely add more to ‘hope’ so the reader can clearly picture it – I can in my head, but I’m the writer! 🙂 All of her nightmares are connected to what she’s working on, and they all come together later in the book.

  11. Jhen Fry

    Did I somehow miss chapter 7, or are we just jumping up to 8? You challenge us to be productive. Thank you!

    Here’s 7 anyway, followed by 8.

    Chapter 7

    At twenty three, Yoshimaru Isanagi is the current tameshigiri cutting champion.

    He cuts things. Really well.

    And man, is he pissed at me.

    Chapter 8

    I hear Aiko slide a door open and lift my heavy head to see where we are. She turns to me and reaches out to move my sweat damp hair from my eyes.
    “Stay with me baby,” She says, “You die on me and I’m gonna’ go fucking postal.”
    “I’ll try not to.” I tell her, “But I can’t guarantee anything.” I manage a weak smile.
    “What about ‘postal’ do you not get?” She says. “Fuck Rya, I didn’t know Isanagi was a mage, if I had, I’d never have asked you to take this fucking duel.”
    What a lame ass reason to die.
    Someone’s entertainment.

    This is the moment when I realize that my whole life is shit.

    • Oops. I did miss seven, didn’t I. I’ll have to rectify that today. I absolutely love your first lines for chapter seven. Perfect.
      And eight is even better. Keep it up!

  12. Cale H

    “You cracked my monocle, dammit!” I said disgustedly, as I examined the item in question, determining if I could fix it.
    “I didn’t mean to…..,” The accused, my unfortunate assistant, replied dejectedly.
    Picking up my tools, I poked and prodded at the broken item, which happened to be my favourite monocle. I had others but these were the ones I had made myself, they were custom, designed specifically to my own specifications. Blueprints for them didn’t exist, at least not in the physical sense, they existed in my mind. Fortunately, I could easily fix them, but I didn’t tell my assistant that. I wanted them to sweat for a bit, hopefully teach them a lesson, if not, there were other punishments I could think up.

    • This is great, Cale. I adore first person. YOu’ve got some good dialog, and I’m getting a good feel for your main character from just these few lines, which is exactly what you want.

  13. Chelsea

    Chapter 1:

    Looking around from atop the tall, brick building, Michelle thought the lines of the horizon looked more like mirages rather than a well-defined landscape. She knew what she was doing, she told herself, convinced this was the way things had to be. She raised her arms and closed her eyes feeling the wind and setting sun against her body. She leaned forward and dove, head first, toward the ground below. She could see the grass and dirt rushing up to greet her. She closed her eyes and suddenly got that feeling in her stomach that people get when they are on a roller coaster and it changes direction. Blinking her eyes open, she looked around and realized she was soaring upward. Closing her eyes, enjoying the warm wind hitting her face, she continued to climb, racing through the air. It was the most exhilarating feeling she had ever experienced.

  14. Chapter 6
    Scott Towers – Daegan & Ahnya’s Penthouse

    “What the hell do you care…Dad? Obviously my mother doesn’t or she would be here. But once again she has left me and you to go who the fuck knows where?!” Rourke yelled.
    “I’m sure she needed the space tae think, ye brat. I dinnae understand why ye have so much hatred over her leaving ye, but I ken she had good reason. That woman would not have turned her back on ye if she had known ye were alive. And ye best watch the tone ye take with her from here on out, lad.” Daegan warned. “I dinnae take kindly tae anyone harassing my mate. Do ye not ken that I had no knowledge of your birth either? Or are ye so full of hate and vengeance that ye bloody cannae see past it? Dinnae think I haven’t noticed. Ye reek of it. Son or not, I will tear ye limb from limb if ye so much as breathe on your mother wrong.”

  15. Derya Erisdottir

    Now things are getting interesting 😉

    I opened my eyes still breathing heavily. Just for a moment I could still feel the rough stone on my back, the cold night air on my skin. The magnificent erection inside me.
    As I looked around, I found myself instead sitting bolt upright on a gurney in a narrow corridor with bad electric lights. Where I’d smelled the pleasant forest smell just moments ago I was now assaulted by the odor of disinfectant, with an undertone of recent vomit. I had been lucky enough to avoid hospitals my whole life, but the smell together with the institutionally white walls were hard to mistake.
    The place was eerily silent. There were people, but they were standing, silently, eyes pointed my way. Other patients, doctors, nurses, everyone was looking at me. There was a thin cotton blanket covering my legs, but it must have slipped of my shoulders when I sat up. And of my chest. I was still only dressed in the lingerie I had climbed down the fire escape in. It was damaged beyond any hope of repair by my misadventures, too. I didn’t think my attire, or lack thereof, was the reason people were staring, though. Between my exhausted panting and the scene I had just awoken from, realization dawned and a furious blush rose to my face. My audience, concluding that nothing more embarrassing would be happening, resumed whatever they had been doing before, like that scene in an 80s movie right after the record scratch and someone saying: And this is how we got here.

    • This is a great beginning, Derya. You’ve got lots of action, but most of it is past tense. It might be more effective if you put it in present. Just for example, “As I looked around, I found myself instead sitting bolt upright on a gurney in a narrow corridor with bad electric lights.” could be moved into present by : I bolted upright, squinting in the flickering electric light illuminating the narrow corridor. As I looked around is passive. I bolted upright is active.

  16. Hannah H.

    Oh, gosh…this is super rough because I’m still in my first draft stage, but here goes! ^^;

    Also, my phone is being a pain, so I apologize if this posts twice. :/

    Beast chapter eight:

    “W-why do you have a tent? It doesn’t seem like you need it.”
    Adam glanced up from the glow of his magic as earth and stone formed a firepit under his hands. “It’s for you,” he said, looking puzzled.
    I blushed and waved at the drab structure. “I know, but why do /you/ have one?”
    The confusion cleared from his face and he chuckled. “When there are humans wandering the forest, I use it to blend in. Even with glamorie, it would seem strange for a lone human to be camping without a tent.”

    • This is a great start, Hannah. You’ve got a good mix of dialog that gives me a clear idea of who these two people are, and yet keeps me wanting to read to find out more. Well done.

  17. Jennifer Vanderkamp

    Did I miss chapter 7?

    Ch 7- Adara’s POV
    Alastor’s pupils engulf the violet irises along with the whites of his eyes. His dagger-tipped fingers latch onto my arms and yank me towards him. They threaten to slice my thin shirt and the skin underneath it. The pressure of his grip increases. His hot breath blasts my face as he bellows. I can’t seem to comprehend his words. My eyes are transfixed like a deer locked in the headlights. About to die.

    Ch 8-Adara POV

    I jolt into consciousness. My brain is sluggish to compute. Something snaps to my left and I realize the noise isn’t a mini explosion, even though it echoes inside my skull, but a fire. Comfortable warmth radiates from it, caressing my face like a mother’s touch. A caring mother, anyway. The heat isn’t enough to silence the aches in my body thanks to the ice flowing through my veins. I’m desperate to crawl closer, to soak up more of the heavenly light and cease my shivers.

    • Hi Jennifer. Yep, I skipped one, but I’ll fix that today. 🙂
      Writing in present tense is tricky, but you seem to have the knack. Well done. I like what you have here in chapter seven.
      Chapter eight is really good, too. You dump me right in to the action, even if that action is only crawling to a fire. I can feel it, and that’s what makes it work. Great job!

  18. Ch8-Tori
    We arrived at the local police department about twenty minutes early so I could introduce myself, explain my transaction, show my concealed carry license and the gun I had tucked in a holster at my lower back under my jacket. Of course there were the inevitable stupid questions mostly regarding a female with a gun which I answered without snickers or eye rolls.

    Evidently Gordy and the desk cop are buds as they wasted time chatting until it was closer to 2:00 than I cared for before we turned for the door, nearly colliding with two men.

    • This is great, SS. Just for grins, try slowing down and rewriting it with us actually seeing her walk in the door and do all the things you tell us she did. It’s a great opportunity to flesh out her character, and I would like to hear the stupid questions.

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