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Thursday, May 14, 2009

The first page, part 6 - Use key words deliberately

This is continuing my series on things to look for in your first page.
Click here for part five.

Use key words deliberately

In the first page, especially, you want to be extremely deliberate with every single word you use. If you have bland or neutral words, try substituting stronger key words that will indicate genre or develop your story’s atmosphere. You can always change it back if it doesn’t sound right or do what you want it to.

(Forgive me for using my own writing as an example, but it was easier than typing up a few paragraphs from a book. The following is from Single Sashimi:)

Venus Chau opened the door to her aunt’s house and smelled something terrible.

“What’s that smell?” She tried to hold her breath.

Her cousin Jennifer Lim entered the foyer with an angry look. “She’s making my kitchen smell.”

“Who?” Venus hesitated on the threshold, breathing clean air.

“My mother, who else?”


versus

Venus Chau opened the door to her aunt’s house and almost fainted.

“What died?” She exhaled sharply, trying to get the foul air out of her body before it caused cancer or something.

Her cousin Jennifer Lim entered the foyer with the look of an oni goblin about to eat someone. “She’s stinking up my kitchen.”

“Who?” Venus hesitated on the threshold, breathing clean night air before she had to close the door.

“My mother, who else?”


(This book is already published, or I would replace “exhaled sharply” with “sputtered” or something like that. Then again, writers are always self-editing, even long after the book has gone to the printer.)

Click here for part seven.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the examples Camy. I need to be beat over the head to get an idea to stick and this really helped me.

    The second version kills the first.
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Jill! Glad it was helpful.
    Camy

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love to see how a work progresses.

    Thanks for sharing that. :)

    ReplyDelete

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