Friday, October 27, 2006

Character and conflict in your opening paragraphs - and an update

Julie posted today about how your opening paragraphs can say something about your character(s) and conflict. And she posted a challenge to others to do the same. I'm only posting one because I'm in a huge hurry today.

Without further ado:
From HIRED BY THE COWBOY, Harlequin Romance, May 2007

“Miss? Wake up. Can you hear me?”
The deep voice came first, then Alex’s vision gradually started to clear.
“Oh thank God. Are you all right?”
Alex’s eyes followed the sound of the voice as she looked up, dazed. Trying hard to focus, she found herself staring into the most beautiful set of brown eyes she’d ever seen. They were stunning, dark brown with golden flecks throughout, large and thickly lashed. So we know he's a stranger, and a stunner. And that he's basically rescued her...
Men shouldn’t have eyes that pretty, she thought irrationally, realizing with a jolt that she was captured in the arms of the eyes’ owner.
“Oh, goodness!” She's not comfortable being in this position! The eyes crinkled at the corners at her exclamation and she felt his hands on her arm and behind her back, helping her to rise.
“Slowly now. You fainted.”
Really? I hadn’t noticed. I was too busy being unconscious. She bit back the sarcastic retort when she saw the genuine concern in his eyes. He even made sure she was standing firmly on her feet before releasing her—and then stayed close, as if he didn’t quite trust her to remain steady. We see that he's chivalrous, and by her noticing, we know she's not used to that from men.
He would have fainted too, in her condition and with this heat…and the lack of air conditioning in the convenience store hadn’t helped much either. What's her condition? A little mystery (although it's pretty obvious).
“I’m so sorry,” she blustered, brushing off her pants and avoiding his eyes. She avoids his eyes because she's embarrassed and uncomfortable. And so we have questions. What's going on with her, who is this knight in shining armor and how is he going to fit into the picture?

Openings need to do a few things...give us a basic sense of character, of conflict, and most of all I try to give them action. I hate it when books start with internal monologue backstory. Throw me into the thick of it. Most of the time I have my characters together in the first few paragraphs, and the first few pages for sure. I aim for immediacy.

I got a brief note from my editor saying I'd get revisions after the weekend. Yay! It was a positive note so I'm very, very happy.

I also did my banking. Let's just say it's a darker spot on my otherwise lovely day.

Have a marvelous weekend, all.


  1. Congrats on revisions! I celebrate all things positive :)

    I did Julie's challenge too:

  2. I like beginnings that jump right into action, too, Donna. Yours is excellent. I think you're right that it's obvious that she's pregnant, but the curiosity of wondering how a pregnant woman is going to end up with this stranger has me wanting to read more...

    Thank you for doing my challenge, and yay that our editor likes your book!

  3. And I have done Julie's challenge as well.

    I am certain Our Editor's comments will be spot on and help make a good book great! I have faith.