These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.
Cinnamon Bear, I actually love that first sentence, for its "what on earth is going on" factor. After all, not EVERY one of those "rules" (suggestions, really) has to be followed to the letter, every time. They're guidelines, things to consider.
You've done well.
It's been six months, and I still can't look at sushi.
Ha! This isn't mine, it's Anne Lamott's. I believe it was from her book, Bird by Bird. It was one of those phrases that popped in her head and she wrote it down, but never found a place to use it. In Bird by Bird, she offered the phrase up to the reader. Said, "Use it, if you can. It's a great line." Or something like that. Anyway, I've been wanting to find a place to use it for a very long time, and pow! I finally did. (The original phrase might have read "can't eat sushi.")
I believe this sentence, used as an opening line, creates a hook, because it makes the reader say "Huh?" It's a nice, short sentence, and I believe it introduces conflict. It does not introduce place, time, or character, but I think that can all be accomplished in the second sentence. Unfortunately, my brain is dead right now, and I can't come up with one...
Here's my homework:
The Pay Off
Shanna heaved the bag of groceries up to her chest as she stepped off the curb to cross the busy streets. As Kenny fell in pace beside her, he clutched his bag under one arm. Peering inside at the intoxicated patrons, they scurried past Cassidy Bar and Lounge. Some people chugged beer from glass mugs while some played pool, and others just sat around lounging. The ambiance seemed inviting, but they knew such entertainment was not recommended.
1) It has an interesting title that readers will want to know more about. (Though not sure if it would be considered "Cliche")
2) Use of interesting (Salsa) words: Heaved, clutched, scurried, chugged...
3) The main characters are introduced by names.
4) The setting might not be exotic, but the readers are invited into the scene.
5) The conflict is introduced in the first paragraph, though at the end....I think
My writing is a passion, not a hobby!
I agree 100% with everything you said here, Theresa. Love Anne Lamott. If I could write one-tenth as well as she does, I'd be a happy gal.
Amilli, I'd certainly be interested enough to read on. Just two things you might want to look at:
Your first two sentences have a similar structure--each uses a clause beginning with "as" (although one has it in the middle, and one at the beginning). There's nothing wrong with that structure, but it's often overused, and you really don't want two of them in a row.
You've given Shanna and Kenny equal weight, and even told the reader what's going on in both of their heads. It might be better to bump up the POV to just Shanna. Something like this, maybe:
Shanna heaved the bag of groceries up to her chest as she stepped off the curb to cross the busy streets. Kenny fell in pace beside her, clutching his bag under one arm. They scurried past Cassidy Bar and Lounge, and Shanna glimpsed inside at the intoxicated patrons. Some people chugged beer from glass mugs while some played pool, and others just lounged around. To Shanna, the bar seemed inviting--and forbidden.
My changes might have sent the paragraph in a direction that you didn't intend, but I think you can see that I tightened it a bit, and shifted the POV from a shared POV (which is difficult to maintain) to just Shanna's POV.
I didn't even realized that both characters were sharing the POV! I was really in Shanna's head, so thanks for bringing that to my attention. I agree, the only thing I would change in your paragraph is "Inviting--but forbidden" instead of "Inviting--and forbidden." That one word plays into the story line & end result a little better.
My writing is a passion, not a hobby!
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