Category Archives: Drama Box

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?



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How’s your summer writing going?


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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Share your first-line madness

BplantI’ve decided that summer is my favorite time to write, with my office completely open and all the windows wide so the wind blows through and I need to use paperweights to keep everything down. It’s warmer, too, and anyone who writes knows how cold that gets. Look at the old photos of your beloved writers’ s offices, and ten to one, they have their back to a fireplace or live in a warm clime.

If I’m lucky, I’m working rough draft in the summer, giving me solid office time in the morning/afternoon before it gets too hot, and garden/plotting time in the afternoon/evening. Dialog one day, full text the next. It’s a pleasant way to spend the hot months, half dressed and sitting at a keyboard while my mind is in another dimension making mischief.

So far this summer, I’ve hammered out a novella I’m thrilled about, and am now starting my next full length UF called SKINS. And because I’m excited to share it with you, I’m going to give you the first line of every chapter as I write it.

Are you working this summer? Share with me your first 130 characters of each chapter as they happen. (But no more than 130 characters, please! This is not meant to be a way to get your novel out. It’s an exercise in first-lines, and if you respond here at the blog, I will read/comment on them!)

Here’s my chapter one:

“Joe? This isn’t a good idea. All these places got generators.”

Chapter two tomorrow!


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The difference a week makes

It’s raining, but I don’t mind, because it makes it easier to sit at my desk a few more days and hammer the last few chapters of Joe and Sidney’s story out of rewrite so I can get back to Peri again.

I like rewrites. I always say I like whatever stage of the book I’m in the best, but rewrites are where the magic really happens for me: a road ignored–taken, a new thought out of the blue that shapes and enriches the rest of a person’s life the story. Yeah. That.

But it’s raining, and my garden has really begun to wake up. The bees are appreciating the early blooms, and giving them a head start will help insure that my cherry tree gets pollinated later this spring. The Crocus are giving me a good show, not yet trampled by wind. I’ve got lots of new ones popping up in unexpected places, because, like a squirrel, I forget that I plant them.

Most of these shots are from my front corner garden, wrapped by sidewalk on two sides, my yard on the third. It was nothing but Juniper, a few rocks, and bluebells when I moved in seven years ago? The first time I tackled it, it took two days to clean up. Now it takes about fifteen minutes. Boom, baby! That’s what I like. Landscape that takes care of itself.

The bluebells needed more light and were moved. The Junipers were drastically trimmed to look bonsai-ish. I added a few wheelbarrows of rock, and tidied it all up with moss and miniature plants. The crocus are new this year. And before you crab about the Christmas lights, they’re up all year on my corner garden, bringing a little fairy magic to it all. Soon as we get another nice day, I’ll put the mini-houses up. 🙂

Siberian Iris



Grandkitty came to visit again. Aleix still isn’t sure about it.

Also, the mass market for The Turn just popped up for pre-order. Not a bad price! But the Nook won’t drop to match it until the mass market actually comes out.




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