Category Archives: Drama Box

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!

 

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29 days to DragonCon, and counting

29DaysI’ve only named one of the dragons I’m taking to the con, because the other I’m giving to the auction. She’s got four toes on each hand, and glorious gold wings, and someone will be taking her home after she spent her first summer soaking up the vibes in my office, listening to the click clack of keys and splashing of the fountain.

I’m up to chapter six in my summer WIP, SKINS. My page count is at 55, and I’m a little embarrassed to still be introducing characters, but it is here that we finally meet Victoria, one of antagonists and a ghost from Fenix’s past.

Again, I break my goal of trying to start with dialog. We’re in a ways into the story, and that gives me a little more flexibility, and dialog begins in the one after this. It is admittedly description heavy, but I’m describing something that no one has ever seen, and I’m hopeful that keeps the reader refreshed and reading even as I drop in hints as to where we are. I’ve also used a technique where I start the paragraph with one feeling, (a lyrical description with long sentences that float) and ending it with a vulgar word to shock the reader and wake him or her up, not with the word itself, but in that it follows such lyrical sentences. This technique also gives the reader a good indication of the character herself, lyrical, but inclined to be blunt.

Six

The right shade of blue didn’t exist in her palette, no matter how much or little red she mixed in. Victoria knew to the bottom of her soul what color an updraft had, but duplicating it with earth-based pigments was impossible. The swirls of differentiating air masses over London were stunning from her high-rise office, from the cool river holding a hint of sinking red to the breath-stealing, almost transparent white streaming up from the sun-soaked buildings. That she couldn’t properly capture it was an ever-present thorn. Frowning, Victoria added a tinge of white to make it passable, but as she layered it on the canvas, she still thought it looked like shit.

There you have it. Now show me the first paragraph of the chapter you’re working on. I’ve been enjoying seeing your work!

 

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Chapter five, first paragraphs, Show Me!

I hope all you weekend warriors had some time to spend in your “other universe” and got some words on the paper. I’ve been enjoying seeing little slices of your work this past couple of weeks, so I hope you keep pushing forward along with me.

Today I’m posting the first few lines of chapter five in my WIP, SKINS. I’m back in Fenix’s POV, and it is a slow start. I originally had a one-line of dialog to begin it, but the setting is a little unusual, and I felt that dropping back and bracketing it with a little description help the reader get settled faster.

Chapter Five – SKINS

Debbie had been right. Her assistant knew what she was doing, the woman’s fingers working his foot with a firm, professional strength. Even so, Fenix could not seem to relax and let go. Yes, she was good, but she wasn’t Debbie.

“Are you sure you don’t want any music, Mr. Fenix?” she asked, and Fenix stifled a sigh, muffled as he lay face down on the massage table with his head in the cradle. Not only wasn’t she Debbie but she would not shut up.

Your turn!

And when you’re done, check out my list of fav fantasy reads at Goodreads! How many have you read? https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/984-author-kim-harrison-s-favorite-fantasy-series

 

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How’s your summer writing going?

Bunny

I’m up to chapter four in my WIP (SKINS), and because I miss my writer’s critique group, I’ve opened up the blog for you guys to share your own first paragraph on a chapter by chapter basis. Hopefully we will keep each other motivated until we get our rough drafts done.

I have been so impressed with the skill showing in the first lines that you have been sharing with me. It only goes to prove my thought that there is no wrong way to write, except perhaps not to. I hope you keep it up! And because I know summer is busy, don’t hesitate to post when you can, and don’t sweat it when you can’t. 🙂 This is supposed to be fun, right?

Chapter four brings me back to Nat’s POV. It’s not one of my more exciting first-paragraphs, but it does tie back to my first paragraph of chapter three where Fenix thought about “her being down in the kitchen” and here we not only see “her,” but hear in her own POV about “her leaving the kitchen.”

I’m hopeful that this tie between the two chapters is enough to give it some oomph. Admittedly, it’s not that effective, but we are a ways in. On the plus side, I tried to start with an active action instead of passive, got a reference to the season, weather, and her job in there to help reset the world/scene, and a bit of curiosity-based tension with the noises from the woods ceasing when she showed up and a promise to stay out.

Chapter four

Nat’s gaze kept returning the nearby woods as she walked the site and placed her flags for a rough reference: red for perennials, blue for annuals, and orange for woody plants. It was quiet in there now, apart from the buzzing rattle of an early cicada, but there’d been all manner of snaps and pops of breaking branches when she’d emerged blinking and cool from the kitchen with a generic plan in hand. It was all Nat could do to not cross the drive and step under its cool umbrella to investigate, regardless of her promise to keep herself and crew out of there.

Share away! Quick, like bunnies!

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Chapter three, first lines

Chapter three, first lines!

In SKINS, I’m up to chapter three, where I settle down after a bit of action, slowing to flesh out two of the main characters. Sam and Fenix have known each other for about five years, and they share a secret. It’s hard to have two straight men living together and not have everyone think they’re a couple, so I’m hopeful that I’ve managed to capture a feeling of shared danger or goal, something like I felt from the move, Gattaca, (Which I adore.)

“Are you even listening to me?”

Sam’s question pulled Fenix’s attention away from the red tie he was holding up to his shoulder in question, his focus deepening in the long dressing mirror to find Sam behind him. As was his habit Sam was sitting comfortably in the embroidered barrel chair set beside the window. A tiny cup of tea cooled beside him, the old koi pond and fallen tree neatly framed by the open window. The muggy heat rolling in was pleasant, but his frown wouldn’t go away. She was downstairs in the kitchen–he knew it.

So, share your first paragraph of chapter three and keep this summer writing train going.

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Second chapter, first lines

EDIT: 7/24

I have closed the comments only because I don’t want to miss anyone’s posts and have them think I’m ignoring them. I’ll have a new post on Tuesday, the 25th for more of your first-lines.

It was so encouraging seeing all your first-chapter, first lines on Wednesday. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one sitting alone at a desk trying to herd those literary cats. You guys have some great ideas. Today, I’m going to open the blog up for more as I keep this first-line madness going.

After a hellacious afternoon yesterday, I’ve got the first few lines of chapter two of SKINS to share, and if you have more of your work ready for visual consumption, post it! I think it’s fascinating, and a good exercise, to see how much of a story comes through from just those first lines.

In genre fiction, chapter two doesn’t have to be as attention getting as chapter one, and you can see that as the focus turns from action/dialog to a little more scene setting. In my case, chapter two introduces the three main characters in a setting I will be using over and over. (Chapter one introduced the “sparkle element,” the thing that makes the story unique, the secret that I slowly reveal through the first third of the book to keep you interested.) Again, I’ve started with dialog just because I tend to be description heavy in the first three pages of any chapter, and I need something to break it up.

If you want to make an exercise out of this show-and-tell experiment, give me two versions of your opening chapter two: the first as you have it, and the second rewritten using dialog if your original lacks it, or pure description, if your original has dialog. See what happens. (But please, limit this exercise to no more than five lines of text. 🙂

Original chapter two, first few lines from SKINS

“Gosh darn tower is still down,” Nat muttered, squinting at the faded screen in annoyance. Her body was angled so her shadow would fall across it, but the morning sun was so intense, it made little difference.

rewritten without dialog, expanding on sensations and place setting:

The heat of the sun on her back was intense, and Nat squinted at the sun-bleached phone screen in annoyance as the little beachball of death spun. Either she was in a dead zone, or last night’s storm had taken out the towers.

The first has more action, the second more back story and connection to the previous chapter, both work. Interestingly, though, the first feels more connected, as if just the act of speaking makes a deeper connection.

Your turn! Show and tell!

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Clearly there are a few writers out there

Small town, Irish Pub. Mmmmm.

I had a great response yesterday to the share-your-first-line invitation, and as always, I’m surprised at how many of you out there write, and write well! Great responses, and in every case, I could tell who your target audience was and the feel of the story in general. (This is why most screeners of manuscripts only need to read one page to know if what you have will fit into their book line.)

A good first line immerses you into the world, makes a connection with the reader, or simply draws you into reading the next sentence with curiosity. When I was first starting out, someone told me that most best sellers had dialog within the first three paragraphs. I don’t know how true that is anymore, but getting to the dialog has always been one of my goals, which can be hard when my style naturally gravitates to three pages of scene setting. Getting dialog sprinkled in there helps keep the pace moving.

A good exercise is to read your first three pages aloud, as if you were an audio book, and if you find you’re getting impatient to get to the good stuff, you might want to throw in dialog to break it up or just start deeper into the manuscript and drop in the setting where you can.

I was going to have the first line of chapter two today, but I didn’t get nearly far enough yesterday. I’ll open up a new page tomorrow for your second chapter, first lines.

Happy writing!

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