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Crafting The Story


Crafting the first few paragraphs of a brand new story presents an amazing challenge to every writer. That handful of words must convey to the reader not only the story’s who, what, where, when, and why, but also, its mood, tone, and voice.A daunting task!

Before I began I knew a few things about Lilly. I knew what happened to her before her story began, what frightened her most, who was now missing from her life, and the emptiness she felt because of it.  With the first draft, these opening paragraphs were initially a huge twenty-six pages long.  I knew I had to pare it down!  After much editing, here is the opening gambit.

Lilly Noble & Actual Magic  Page 1

Lilly Noble shivered violently against the blustery chill, but underneath all the layers of clothing she wore, she also trembled with fear.  Was she being sent away to the strange new school as punishment, or because her father couldn’t bear to look at her anymore?  Since the accident, his abrupt mood swings and sudden naps whenever she walked into the room he occupied made her wonder if he blamed her for the car accident that took her mother’s life.  About that particular day, Lilly could remember not a single detail. The lingering amnesia that the doctors had said was a side effect of the coma left her with an untrustworthy memory.  If there was a good thing to come out of leaving home, it was that Lilly would be far away from Morgann, her new stepmother.  The woman’s unblinking glare barely concealed a simmering hatred, and the rancid aroma of stinky feet seemed to cling to her like a nasty cloud.  With a brilliant flash, lightning ignited the gloom overhead.  Thunder rumbled and echoed across the sodden gray skies like eerie voodoo drums.  The ferryboat chugged mightily forward, lurching across the heavy North Atlantic chop. A fog horn bellowed somewhere off in the distance.  Its lighthouse remained a phantom, thanks to the drooping clouds obscuring everything, and bleeding all the light from the late summer afternoon.Something inside the fleur-de-lis locket at her throat slithered and hissed. Lilly closed her fist over the pendant to block out the sound. She wanted to toss the thing into the sea, but it had belonged to her mother, and her father said its luck would keep her safe while she was far away from home. Lilly decided she could use all the luck she could get, even if it came in the form of a creepy locket.

To all of you editors and would-be editors out there in Cyberland – did I answer all of those initial story questions?

Posted by Deborah McTiernan, Author of Lilly Noble & Actual Magic Dares readers to believe in themselves and discover the magic within!

photo credit: madamepsychosis via photopin cc


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