(Well, actually, ‘Pandora’s Box made me do it,’ since Druid’s a sequel and PB sets up the opening, but see, that’s not my book title. And I’m shameless that way. And getting way ahead of myself.)
Hi everyone, and thanks so much for having me here at The Otherworld Diner today! It’s great to be back. Hope I’m dressed okay? You don’t require shoes, do you? (I’m only barely civilized.)
From what Lori told me and what I’ve read on previous posts, it looks like hooks and openers are the theme this week. As it happens, that works for me, too. Well, that and it’s hard to come up with my own topic in between sneezes and snorts. I’ll try to keep the summer cold slime on my side of the screen – my apologies.
Here’s my opening for The Druid Made Me Do It, (Dorchester Love Spell, August 2008), the second book in my series of funny paranormal romances:
“You, Janelle Corrington, will be Robin Goodfellow’s guardian on Earth.”
And, actually, that’s not just the opener but also the premise for the whole book: To satisfy karma and Druid justice, hunky but penitent bad boy Kane (a.k.a. Robin Goodfellow) must make amends to everyone he’s harmed in the past – including Dr. Janelle Corrington, his new and reluctant guardian. How does a Druid convince a human doctor to take on guardianship of the guy who devastated her years ago? Why, he offers compensation in the form of a gift she cannot refuse: the power to heal with just a touch. Not that this gift is without its own drawbacks . . . and temptations.
I’ll admit I’m partial to dialogue openers, but then, I’m a dialogue junky. My first drafts basically resemble a bunch of talking heads in need of bodies, props and setting. For me, though, it’s easy enough to insert the narrative parts later, but dialogue . . . Well, when the dialogue is flowing, when the characters are talking in my head faster than I can type, who am I to silence them? I can be unwise at times, but (I hope) never that stupid
Openings honestly terrify me unless they emerge immediately and completely. I have to not think about them and just dive into the story, hoping for the best. Otherwise, that blank screen stays blank. So I write something – anything -- just to get started. Sometimes I nail the first line immediately; other times I have to go back and change it later. That’s when it can get ugly; we’re talking copious tears, cursing and bloodshed as I work, rework, set aside, reconsider, toss aside and start over . . . before the final version of that first line finds its way onto the page. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but really only about the bloodshed part
For Pandora’s Box (Dorchester Love Spell , February 2008), the first book in my series, I started with a blog entry by my heroine. She basically retells the Pandora’s box myth, adding her unorthodox perspective on the subject, and hints at how it relates to her own situation.
Then, I go to chapter one and begin (again) with dialogue:
“I inherited a rock? Some distant relative I’ve never met willed me a rock? You can’t be serious.” Was that supposed to be an insult? Mina wondered. You’ve been a bad little descendent, Mina, so here, accept this rock as a sign of my eternal contempt . . .
And, sure, that particular rock – her inheritance – turns out to be Pandemina Dorothy Avery’s very own rock box of trouble.
For my March 2009 release, Between a Rock and a Heart Place (third book in the series), I begin with stand-alone quotes by my hero and heroine. They’re taken completely out of context but are a deliberate study in contrast and set up my characters in opposition to each other. I’d quote them here, but they haven’t been edited yet (and may very well suck
I do think – as I’ve seen mentioned here in other postings – that leading with dialogue can be and often is abused. However, I think dialogue is one of my greatest strengths as a writer and I think it’s generally best to lead with your strengths if you can. You know, put your best foot forward?
So tell me . . . how do you get that curser moving across the first page? Can you toss something temporary up there as you plow through your rough draft, or must it be perfect before you can move on? What tricks work for you? How do you use your strengths?