This morning we’re looking at another effective opening. Like last month’s example, the first scene isn’t simply dramatic but introduces a likable character (named November) finding a moment of peace in an otherwise miserable life.
But even more, it introduces readers quite effectively to an alternate metaphysics. Note how the author ramps up the strangeness slowly. November’s initial comment about hanging out with the dead in the cemetery could simply refer to the bodies. Then she spots Victor and we learn that she is actually seeing dead people. Then we get another twist, two paragraphs later, when we learn she’s been committed over this vision in the past and so may not actually be seeing what she thinks she’s seeing. Also, I think it’s implied that Victor was talking to the dead (I’ve made that more explicit), which raises the additional question of just who and what Victor is.
Then, with these questions bubbling around, November sees her mother’s ghost – unless she doesn’t, really. Readers don’t know if November’s mother actually died and how, whether November is delusional or genuinely seeing dead people, and just who (or what) Victor is. That’s a lot of reasons to keep reading packed into a small space.
There are a couple of things that still detract. One is, the author frontloads the piece with a bit too much unnecessary information about November’s family – an easy temptation to fall into. Another – and this is true across genres – is that a more intimate point of view will help draw readers into the main character’s world. I’ve edited things so as to make November’s internal state more consistent and inviting.
So here’s how the piece looks after a little polishing. [Read more…]