I'm finishing up a short story, putting the final polish on it so I can give it over to a couple of beta readers. While working on the story, I got to thinking about hooks and opening lines and paragraphs. I think the opening and ending portions of stories are the hardest to write, even though these two aspects are most often the clearest part of the story for me.
The hard part is coming up with that magical combination of words that will give me the hook that I need to make the story flow. Sometimes, the real opening doesn't come to me until I've finished the entire story or novel. Other times, it rocks right on from start to finish.
I'm curious about what initially draws someone into a story, so I threw together a brief Friday post for fun. Out of all of these openings, which one intrigues you the most? Which one would you most likely pick up to read?
Down by the river, where the water ran deep and the odor of rot lay cool and wet against the earth, the ghost of Magdalene Watts raised her silvery hand and whispered my boy’s name. I stopped rocking and listened to her cold voice rise up through the holler. In the yard, my ten-year-old son Jaime paused in his game of catching lightning bugs and cocked his head toward the sound. The crickets hushed until nothing was left but Magdalene’s deep song.
Night shadows deepened when Lucian extinguished the candle beside his bed. The cry from beyond his chamber ended too soon for him to determine its source. He sat on the edge of his mattress and listened for the noise to repeat itself. The hearth fire crackled. The blaze saturated the room with heat, but Catarina forbade open windows. His twin sister was always cold.
In the garden beyond my window, a night bird cried a sublime song while in the distance, a guard called the watch. Otherwise, the palace slept as I, Solomon, third King of all Israel, lay dying with only an angel at my side.
I turned fifteen the year the desert swallowed my brother. I should have gone first, but Mamá said that I looked too young, too skinny—no one would hire a boy my size. Although I possessed the sharper wit and even spoke a little English, my wiry build went against me. Time wasn’t our friend and we couldn’t wait for me to attain to Jorge’s girth.
My first memory was of the sun on the Alboran Sea, glittering crystalline tears of light that bounced on every wave. The ocean thundered and foamed against nearby cliffs, clawing at the earth and dragging it away one pebble at a time. Gulls wheeled overhead, dazzling bolts of silver, they shrieked like women afire.
If color were sound, this would be a song of blue, low and sultry, bittersweet—but not a requiem. Not yet. These were merely the opening notes, the long slow growl of a guitar, a player in pain. He mourned his song in a harmony of indigo and black.
If you're so inclined, vote in the comments, or you can let me know on Twitter, or Facebook. Have some fun and have a great weekend.