The exercise I’m working on all this week:
Analyze and emulate the opening (first lines or paragraphs) of several stories or novels, each written by a different favorite author. This exercise will help you practice how to hook your reader, but most importantly, it will help you discover and develop your voice through the study of a favorite author’s voice. If you love the voice of an author, it’s probably because you identify with his/her voice; that is, your voices have something in common. This exercise will help you discover those commonalities.
Today’s author is Neil Gaiman, and the novel is The Graveyard Book.
There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a key.
The key was long and ancient; its bow was oddly ornate. It was made of the purest silver, but you would not know that, not at first, for with time it had become heavily tarnished and no one had bothered to polish it.
The key had done what it was made to do. It had opened the forbidden room, and now both the bow and the blade were slowly undergoing a change. The key was turning blood-red.
The door was still open, just a little, where the girl had slipped in and — after a few moments of horrified shock — had slipped out. A putrid stench had been released from the room and was now wafting like a wandering ghost down the dimly lit hallway.
The girl came to her senses and shut the door. With her left hand she pulled a dainty handkerchief from the pocket of her white gown, and with it she covered her nose and mouth. With her right she locked the room. She stood there trembling, trying to process what she had just seen. Five or six young women, all bloodied and dead, all hanging like puppets from hooks on the walls, each wearing a wedding dress not unlike her own.
She dropped the key in sudden terror. It felt hot and it shone with an unearthly red glow.
Wow, this is so great. Try it! 🙂