Starting Out Right

Filed in Gather Books Essential by on February 22, 2014 0 Comments

Whether it be a novel or a short story, the opening paragraph is often the deal breaker. If the first paragraph, and especially the first sentence, doesn’t grab the reader’s imagination, no matter how wonderful the rest of the story is, chances are that the reader won’t be there to find out.

What I have for you today are five opening paragraphs from short stories and novels I’ve written. I wonder, do each of them fill the bill for a good opening paragraph? Do they grab your attention, spark your imagination and leave you wanting more? Or to they fall flat and make you want to move on to something else?  Leave a comment and let me know.

  1. From Cartersville:

The Cartersville Pioneer Days Festival was a reflection of a happier, simpler time in the history of the small town.  Main Street was blocked off and Memorial Park was filled with small booths and displays celebrating the town’s Florida Cracker heritage.  Despite the large crowds, Sheriff Matt Green was relaxed, trouble during the festival was rare.  The afternoon was clear and hot, the town band played soft melodies on the park gazebo.  It was a day for laughter and ice cream, sunshine and warm breezes. Matt stood in the center of it all, his crisply creased tan uniform valiantly holding its own against the humidity.  It was a perfect day made all the better by the sight of his wife, June, and son, Tommy, walking towards him from the playground.  Tommy was wearing his new Cartersville Pioneer Days Festival―Celebrate Your Cracker Heritage With Us―ball cap and tee shirt.

2.  From 1933:

The boy barely made it, he had to go so bad.  He dropped his overalls to the floor of the outhouse, quickly planted himself, and let it go.  Having survived the initial release, he grabbed for the copy of Weird Tales magazine his father had left there.  By lantern light, he paged through the twice read stories and was suddenly possessed by the thought that in his rush for relief he had forgotten the ritual of checking for spiders. Black widows are native to central Florida and fond of the moist darkness of the outhouse.  It was not until he finished though that he felt it.  He was about to stand, to wipe, and head back for the house when he felt a strange, terrifying tickling around the cheeks of his ass.  He tensed and propelled himself upwards, all the while expecting that inevitable, painful pinch.  The pinch never came.  He simultaneously swatted at his backside with one hand and thrust his other hand outward towards the latch that held the door shut, but could not find it.  His momentum unchecked, he fell forward, stumbling on the overalls around his ankles.

3. From: Any Tomorrow: The Calling:

From the oppressive heat of the South Carolina summer stepped a man, old, unnaturally old by his own reckoning, but not bent with age. His hair was a disarray of unruly tangles and his clothes looked like he had slept in them more than one night. He had. It had been a long trip from Princeton and he was more tired than he had ever been. His tiredness, however, was only partially to blame for his exhaustion. The true source of his exhaustion was the burden he carried with him, a dark secret even he did not fully comprehend.

4. From B-24:

It was in the summer before I first experienced stinky finger with Pretty Patty Precious, the prematurely large breasted daughter of the farmer who lived next door. It was the same summer we traded twisting our G.I. Joes and Barbies into ineffective pseudo-coitus for awkward, frantic, heavy petting. It was the summer everything changed. It was the summer I discovered the shimmering.

5. From The Last Pope of Antioch:

The red convertible flew down the dusty, empty road like flame seeking something to ignite.  The driver concentrated on his task.  Seeing far beyond his horizon, far past his destination, he stared out through the waves of heat reflected from the road surface, sunglasses wrapped around his face seeming to form themselves to the contour of it.  His face was angular, giving the impression of sharpness.  Although it had been days since he had shaved, his pockmarked skin, possibly an artifact of the ravages of youth, showed no sign of stubble.  The truth of it was that he had never developed a beard, so common in other men, and he counted himself lucky to be spared the razor, that dragging of sharp steel across unprotected flesh.

About the Author ()

I write speculative fiction with an emphasis on horror. I also write blog about the self-publication experience at http://anytomorrow.wordpress.com/

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