Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dismembering Dismembering

Okay, on Thursday we talked about opening hooks. I said I’d give examples from my own writing, so here goes. I’m going to put two openings here -- both from the same book, yet totally different. Today, I present the opening I wrote first. On Monday, I’ll show you what I ended up with.

When I wrote Dismembering the Past, the first draft started this way:

<< The first things Kelly noticed when she raised the lid on the freezer were the eyes. Eighteen glazed eyes reflected light from the frost-encrusted bulb. Heads and necks bent backward and blank faces tilted upward toward the sliding baskets of ice cream and ground beef.

Propping open the freezer door, she turned to the elderly man and woman behind her. "She killed all nine?"

Hoyt nodded. Sparse sprigs of hair fluttered around his ears. He shifted his balance and limped a half-step forward, pushing the silver-colored walker in front of him. Once he re-established equilibrium, he leaned heavily on the walker's metal frame and looked at Kelly. His left eye focused on her face; the right one remained closed except for a black slit barely visible through a curtain of snow-white lashes. "Yep, every last one."

"And they were like this when you found them? The police didn't alter anything?"

He turned his head and spat on the cement garage floor. "Police didn't do nothing. That's why Dot insisted we hire a detective."

"Now, Hoyt, that's not exactly true." Dot stepped around her brother-in-law and turned her watery eyes in Kelly's direction. Dot's tightly coifed hair seemed to be held in place by invisible rollers. "They came out, Kelly, and talked to us. We gave them a picture of Mabel, but they said there wasn't much they could do since Mabel was a grown woman. Said there wasn't no law against a grown woman killing all her chickens, then hightailing it away from home." >>

Not bad. I liked it. I thought it had a good first line that would hook a reader. It had a twist that might make someone want to keep reading. But … maybe too many adjectives, too much description, for the opening of the book. I edited that scene and kept it, but didn't make it Chapter One.

Next time – what I ended up using to start Dismembering the Past.

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