fiction

It Is A Truth Universally Acknowledged

This year will mark NaNoWriMo number six. I don’t think, six years ago, that I thought I would still be doing this. But I don’t know what else I would be doing if I wasn’t doing NaNo.

NaNo is one of my favorite times of the year. November and December make up my two favorite months of the year and they just so happen come back to back. Now that it’s that time again (36 days!), I figured it might be time to go back, back, back in time! So let’s pull out all those old NaNos, six in total so far, and check out the opening paragraphs.

Opening paragraphs can be really important. They set the scene. They introduce characters, and they are your very first step into this new world. I wouldn’t say I’m awesome at them just yet, but there is still time, and I doubt anyone really is right out of the gate. But that’s what an opening paragraph is: it’s your start out of the gate and you don’t want to be the horse licking your behind while everyone else bolts out of there.

2007:

My very first NaNo and the longest original story I’ve ever written to this day –

The view outside the window hadn’t changed for the past three years. The rolling hill disappearing over a crest beyond, lined by swaying maple trees, and a fence that looked small from a distance but was really quite high being the only things visible out the small-paned window.

2008: The Cereal Song

The Cereal Song is available for purchase through createspace, amazon.com, and amazon kindle

There’s only one grocery store in town and it sits on the corner of Oak and Pine, bordered on either side by a liquor store and a strange little tourist shop that sells items that no one in their right mind would buy. There are no tourists to buy them anyway and how they stay in business is a mystery.

2009:

I wrote two novels this year, both over 50k words.

1. “General, they’ve brought in the prisoners; they’re being held in a nearby house awaiting your orders.”

Standing at the window, the general turned slowly on his heel, hands running down the silk of his vest thoughtfully, eyes falling on the messenger standing in the doorway, slightly nervous.

2. Austin stumbled in between the doorframe, rocking vicariously with the movement of the ship, seizing the frame to keep from cascading past. Scrambling up, he threw himself in the room to save himself as the ship rocked again.

2010:

This is the only NaNo that I did not finish. I still feel guilty sometimes.

The snow fell thick and fast outside the window, heavy white mounds piled in the front yard and on either side of the walk leading to the front steps. The darkened sky was lit only by the multi-colored strings of light threaded along the outlines of the houses across the street. A bright plastic reindeer, nose garishly red in the darkness, was planted across the street and as Jeremy watched, the nose blinked off, red fading into darkness.

2011: Chasing Sunset

Chasing Sunsets will hopefully be my second self-published novel, coming within the next few months.

“Blake!”

Blake cracked open an eye, eyeing the sunlight streaming in the window with severe distaste. Instead of replying to his mother’s voice through the door, he pulled the covers over his head and burrowed in deeper. He was never coming out if he could help it.

Opening paragraphs set the stage. I haven’t quite gotten that far with this year’s NaNo, but I’m not supposed to start on that anyway. I’ve got my character names, though, and that’s one step in the right direction. This year, we’ll be saying hello to Sequoia, Ren, Kenai, and Birch. I hope this year, they do what I want. Hah.

What do you have planned for your NaNo this year?

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2 thoughts on “It Is A Truth Universally Acknowledged

  1. Hey. I was just reading your post about opening paragraphs. My Dad reads the fist page of a book and only if he likes it, will he read the rest. I thought I would show you this first page of an Irish book simply because it too deals specifically with opening paragraphs. Brian O’Nolan (A.K.A. Flann O’Brien, A.K.A. Myles na Gopaleen, A.K.A. Myles na gCopaleen et al.) was an Irish comedy writer. Severely underrated but tough to decipher i.e. his sense of humour was a bit bizarre. Anyway, I thought this might interest you. He was a massive fan of Irish folklore and the language itself. Here is the first page with one of my favourite opening lines ever:

    Excerpt from Flann O’Brien’s
    At Swim-Two-Birds
    © 1939 by Brian O’Nolan

    HAVING placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes’ chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression. I reflected on the subject of my spare-time literary activities. One Beginning and one ending for a book was a thing I did not agree with. A good book may have three openings entirely dissimiliar and inter-related only in the prescience of the author, or for that matter one hundred times as many endings.

    Examples of three separate openings – the first:

    The Pooka MacPhellimey, a member of the devil class, sat in his hut in the middle of a firwood meditating on the nature of numerals and segregating in his mind the odd ones from the even. He was seated at his diptych or ancient two-leaved writing-table with inner sides waxed. His rough long-nailed fingers toyed with a snuff-box of perfect rotundity and through a gap in his teeth he whistled a civil cavatina. He was a courtly man and received honour by reason of the generous treatment he gave his wife, one of the Corrigans of Carlow.

    The second opening:

    There was nothing unusual in the appearance of Mr John Furriskey but actually he has one distinction that is rarely encountered – he was born at the age of twenty-five and entered the world with a memory but without personal experience to account for it. His teeth were well formed but stained by tabacco, with two molars filled and a cavity threatened in the left canine. His knowledge of physics was moderate and extended to Boyle’s Law and the Parallelogram of Forces.

    The third opening:

    Finn Mac Cool was a legendary hero of old Ireland. Though not mentally robust, he was a man of superb physique and development. Each of his thighs was as thick as a horses belly, narrowing to a calf as thick as the belly of a foal. Three fifties of fosterlings could engage with handball against the wideness of his backside, which was large enough to halt the march of men through a mountain-pass

    I hurt a tooth in the corner of my jaw with a lump of the crust I was eating. This recalled me to the perception of my surroundings.

    1. Oooh, I rather like that. Of course I read it all in an English accent because I can never get the Irish one right, not even in my head, except for your favorite phrase: “That’s grand.” 😀 Opening paragraphs are hard. I just rewrote another one yesterday.

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