Rewriting your opening

Published by Corbyn in the blog Corbyn's blog. Views: 109

I have trouble with beginnings. There, I've said it. This statement doesn't just pertain to my writing, but my life in general. I'm generally laid back, but when it comes to beginning something new regardless of what it is, I drag my feet. Eventually, I find that despite my reluctance, it happens anyway, and there was nothing really to drag my feet about, but still. I do. For the purposes of this blog post, though, I'll keep my thoughts (or try to) on writing. That's what you have come to read about, my writing journey, right?

Beginnings are hard. They just are, at least for some people. Right now I have three WIPS and I don't like the beginning of two of them, and the third starts with a good old fashioned cliche. I've been thinking about the problem with my openings for two days, and as I thought about the openings, something clicked.

Both of the stories that I dislike the openings of are about people that are trying to survive. But there is a difference between survival on a day to day basis, and actual survival (which is way more interesting IMO). Let's face it, most people would rather read a short story about a man dangling over an alligator pit ala Pitfall style, than a guy who's walking home from work trying to keep his head straight enough so that he doesn't give more thought to committing suicide. Personally, I would read both, but the beginnings have to be attention-grabbing in some way to facilitate that. As it stands, both stories openings let the reader down in that regard.

How to fix that problem? Well, first... one story at a time. Here is the opening for BreWd, my short story about a man battling inner, and outer demons:


Charles walked down Lexington Avenue every evening at exactly five-forty-five. His days were always the same. He left work, walked to the tubes, then rode home. He was caught in a constant loop of monotony. But as he passed the last alleyway before the corner of Thirty-fifth, something sweet smelling, and homey caught his attention, and he paused. Hanging from the corner of the squat brick building, (which tilted to the left and looked more at home in a Tim Burton movie than on Lexington Avenue) hung a sign which read:

BreWd
Artisinal teas…
There are tea shops—
then there are tea shops!

It's not a terrible opening, but considering it's the third attempt at one, it's not great either. So, how about adding a little more spice to it? The first three sentences really let the rest of the story down. So I'm going to tweak them, how about this:

Charles life had become an endless loop of monotony. He couldn't help but think it, even as his expensive leather shoes clunked over another vent grate on Lexington Avenue. I wonder if there really are alligators down there—better yet— I wonder if Nancy would miss me if I were eaten by one? As Charles passed the last alleyway before the corner of Thirty-fifth, something sweet smelling, and homey caught his attention. He paused looking around. Hanging from the corner of the squat brick building, (which tilted to the left and looked more at home in a Tim Burton movie than on Lexington Avenue) hung a sign which read:


It's better, but I still have a way to go with this one. Well, I think that's enough sharing for one day. I just thought it might be helpful for others to realize that everyone struggles with their writing. It's a process. Sometimes you get something you really like that works well, and sometimes, you just have to play with it until you are happy, or can't find a better solution, then come back to it later.
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