Friday, August 7, 2009

A Tale of Two Openings

It isn't often I turn outside my comfort zone for help, but we are all readers here and Vortex followers are notoriously brilliant.

I'm flirting with different openings. I've never had as much difficulty with any first page as I've had with this novel, The Night Caller. Not sure what it is, but my objectivity has shriveled into one quaking core of hardened story-opening doubt. I thought it might be fun to have everyone's opinion.

Try these on. Flirt with them. Chew them up a bit. Disregard genre. Pretend you picked it up off the bookstore shelf and opened to the first page. Which would compel you to read further? Plunk down cash? Dance with glee? Okay, just kidding about the last one.

Opening 1:

The call came before dawn. Had Evan Roth not filled his solitude with crafting creamer patterns in his Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee or watching his neighbor pluck dandelions from her sidewalk crack at four am—antiseptic details to his quiet, hemorrhaging reality—he might have missed the ring completely.

The Victorian’s stark interior magnified the impatient, double bursts.

Opening 2:

Even the whacks have to step out sometime.

The peephole’s glass bubbled the front lawn. Maple leaves spiraled like glass flecks in a pre-dawn kaleidoscope. Past the barrier—law enforcement’s kill zone—a neon sign lauding Michelin Tires blazed and faded in the shop window across the road.

An optical illusion of chaos.

Evan Roth’s only certainty the world existed beyond this zone, The Silver Creek Gazette, lay bundled on itself, too far away. Naked. Exposed.

Weigh in. I have my big girl panties on. I can take it.


the walking man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Gramlich said...

I like opening 2 much, much better than opening 1. 1 would not bring me into the book. It's too comfortable, too cosy.

laughingwolf said...

hmmm... methinks mark has several good points, lam

me? i like to start a tale smack dab in some kinda action and hope to retain a death grip on the reader til the bitter end...

L.A. Mitchell said...

@walkingman - only you would mistake coffee creamer for something perverted. You and Bukowski. Thanks for your input.

@Charles - Yesterday, I figured out-for sure-where I needed to start. Now I just have to labor over it. Thanks.

@laughingwolf - sounds like a good practice to me.

Pamela Cayne said...

I would have to weigh in on the side of Opening #2, but I'm also a firm believer in I don't know my opening until I finish my book. I'll start with what I believe is the best, but know it's often not until I've walked the whole path with my characters that I know how they started in the first place.

the walking man said...

I apologize if I offended you. I sincerely do. *shrug* I went with the images perceived by me through the words read. *ouch*

You wanted me to sugar coat?

I found both openings and the descriptions of the action happening in the scenes to not pique my curiosity because they seem overly verbose.

I found the overly detailed description actually took me away, far away and diverting me from what may or may not have been happening in Mr. Roth's living room and the street outside.

And as a 21st century man let me apologize again for the previous offense and just in case let me apologize for any offense this revised comment may cause. I am sorry for crossing the boundary you clearly established.

Be Well and Be Kind


Rick said...

Hello, L.A.! I hope this input helps, as I would like to see you succeed with this.

In opening #1, the second sentence is too long and convulted. It seemed a little too crammed with extraneous details.

So I'd go with opening #2, but, if you don't mind the suggestion, I'd consider changing the fourth word (the verb bubbled) to something else like "distorted."

By the way, it's wonderful the way that you threw these two alternatives out for comment. It's such an interesting idea that I'm going to try the same thing down the road to get your input!

Vesper said...

L.A., opening #2 is better for me. Your descriptions are fantastic, but, at the same time, that they are so interesting makes them a little bit distracting.

L.A. Mitchell said...

@Pamela - I'm like you..I can't know the opening until I've written the end. Problem is, it's long written and not working so well. Thanks for visiting :)

@walkingman - no apologies needed. Big girl pants, remember?

@Rick - I agree with you and Mark...the word "bubbled" has to go. Thanks so much.

@Vesper - sounds like a consensus. Exactly what I was hoping for. Thanks everyone!