Openings and Voices 5

Published August 3, 2012 by Elsa Pla

The exercise I’ve been 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 Terry Pratchett and the book is The Wee Free Men.

Some things end before they begin.

It was a spring thunderstorm, the kind that should drop hail the size of golf balls and spawn tornadoes a mile wide, but it didn’t appear to know it. Perhaps the air was too dry; the clouds, too flimsy; perhaps the energy was flowing in the wrong direction. It sprinkled a few raindrops, made a bit of noise and light, and spit a couple of raggedy, harmless twisters. That was all the bluster it could muster.

Miss Penelope Pitt sat on a folding chair in the middle of her dried-out yard, studying the stillborn storm with a spyglass. She didn’t mind the rain or the wind. She was a witch, after all, impervious to all kinds of weather.

A tray table stood next to her and on it lay a few common items: a small, black notebook and a sturdy pencil, an over-sized pair of scissors, and an upholstery needle trailing a long strand of thick, cloud-gray thread. She placed the spyglass on the table, picked up the notebook and pen, and began scribbling rows of unintelligible calculations.

She stopped writing, studied her work, and scrunched her brow. The numbers dutifully rearranged themselves on the page.

“Yes,” she said quietly as raindrops swirled playfully around her hat. “There’s definitely something worrisome going on on The Other Side. I should probably go there. But first I’ll take a look.”

The witch stood up and grabbed the scissors. Quickly and deftly, she made a few cuts in the air in front her. She now had a view of a snowy hill and a starless night sky.

“Thunder and lightning! There’s already a witch there!”

She dropped the scissors, grabbed the needle and thread, and hurriedly mended the aperture.

That was a fun way to end the week. I”ll post again next Monday. 🙂

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