Wednesday, April 8, 2015
A YA Adventure for Spring Break
by Robert Kanehl
A monster devours the town, building by building. The fire brigade makes one last stand, while the town’s elderly, sick, and children stand on the town pier facing the cold Atlantic, or death by fire, unless someone comes up with a miracle.
Question from the e-mail: How do I do the opening scene of a story?
Answer: Write it last. After you know the whole story and can assess how to get the reader involved with the action as quickly as possible. Be sure to introduce the characters by Name and to give a short description, but if possible tie it to the dialogue with action tags, rather than simple "saids." Show the characters movements and expressions.
Check all the transitions in your story, and especially the first one!
A transition is when you move the reader from one place to another, or one scene to another, or one time to another. For those of us who are old enough to remember black and white westerns (or who are fans of movie classics) one memorable transition is when they flash on the screen, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch....”
A good transition, like the lead in a newspaper or magazine article, should answer the questions, Who? Where? and When?
Otherwise it leaves the reader vaguely aware that something is missing and causes editors to write in their refusal letters, "This story needs to be better grounded in time and space." I know. I have the letters to prove it, because I used to be the world's worst at writing transitions.
The worst kind of transition is a "weather report" as in, "It was a dark and stormy night," because it doesn’t say where, or when, or who. There's no hint that the reader is in Pompeii in 79 AD, or that Vesuvius is about to blow its top!