Let's pretend this is the first paragraph of the first page of the first chapter of my newest work in progress.

Abby couldn't believe she had fallen into the marsh again. She really couldn't believe she'd worn the "borrowed" Gucci shoes and her secondhand designer suit. This day wasn't looking for good for her. So what else was new?

Thunder rolled so loudly she felt it in her gut. The skies opened, dumping enough rain to drown a car.

Damn, the top on the rented Mustang convertible was down.

Anyone want to read more? Do you know anything about Abby or where she is?

How much time do I want to spend making this part perfect before I write the story? What if I decide to drop that part after I finish the story?

Speaking of book openings. Alicia Raisley, editor/author has graciously agreed to read book openings and make suggestions. Please send your opening paragraphs, no more than 125 words if you are sending dialogue.


Alicia Raisley blogged about OPENINGS EARLIER THIS WEEK.

Feel free to make suggestions for my opening, though I have no idea where that story s going.


  1. Hildie McQueen // February 2, 2012 at 9:04 AM  

    Wow I love the challenge of opening paragraphs!!!

  2. Nightingale // February 2, 2012 at 9:12 AM  

    Every one of the was intriguing. Usually, I just start writing but most of the time go back and rework the opening paragraph.

    Thanks Alicia for your advice and critiques.

  3. Pamela Varnado // February 2, 2012 at 9:43 AM  

    Getting that first paragraph right is challenging. It often reflects the mood of my entire story.

  4. Mary Marvella // February 2, 2012 at 10:53 AM  

    Morning, Hildie. So, send us one!

  5. Mary Marvella // February 2, 2012 at 10:55 AM  

    Linda, I just started writing to have something to make my point. You know me! No real plotting, just an idea.

  6. Mary Marvella // February 2, 2012 at 10:56 AM  

    Pam, you are so right. That's the reason I come back later and fine-tune the beginning paragraphs.

  7. Mary Ricksen // February 2, 2012 at 6:13 PM  

    I like the last line the best! For an opening sentence, you say an awful lot in a few words. I don't plot myself.

  8. Scarlet Pumpernickel // February 2, 2012 at 8:40 PM  

    I don't plot, but I am trying to teach my students to do just that when they have to write an essay. Most groan and don't want to do it, sound familiar?

  9. Judy // February 2, 2012 at 9:01 PM  

    Opening paragraphs are never written, they are rewritten--again and again. Set it aside and then take each sentence and make it bigger, more specific words, greater use of the five senses, etc. etc. We've all heard it before! You've got a great beginning.... Go for it! You're doing great... Uh, gee, do I sound like I've had that told to me before? LOL

  10. Mary Marvella // February 2, 2012 at 11:02 PM  

    Thanks, Mary R. I was trying to pack the opening without seeming to.

  11. Mary Marvella // February 2, 2012 at 11:04 PM  

    Yep, Scarlet, most of my students did and the ones I tutor do, too.One adult get it better and so does the high school junior. Her teacher is grading the steps the way I did in the dark ages.

  12. Mary Marvella // February 2, 2012 at 11:06 PM  

    Judy, you have been listening to all the workshops. And they are right!

    I could refine the beginning now, or I could do that as I learn more things I feel belong there for the reader's sake.

  13. Mona Risk // February 3, 2012 at 8:53 AM  

    I have at least twenty versions of first paragrapgs for every book. I keep changing it for as long as the book is not published. It's never good enough.

  14. EC Spurlock // February 3, 2012 at 7:45 PM  

    I think this is a great start to a humorous mystery. I keep wondering why she is out in the swamp and I'd definitely be curious to read more!

    I have always been told that I do opening paragraphs and ending paragraphs well (it's just that pesky stuff in the middle... ;-) ) but I have since learned to cut the first sentence or so off most of my opening paragraphs, to better dump the reader into the middle of the action.

    Thanks for this opportunity!

  15. Mary Marvella // February 3, 2012 at 11:00 PM  

    I'm with you, Mona. Waiting until it's perfect would mean I never write the book.

  16. Mary Marvella // February 3, 2012 at 11:01 PM  

    EC, I'm with you. I have a place to start. And I made you wonder.

  17. Patrice // February 4, 2012 at 8:08 AM  

    I have rewritten the opening scenes in many of my books several times, because as we all know if you don't hook 'em, you lose 'em. Right away. Had to ditch my first chapter of my last book as my agent wasn't fond of where I started and now it's much stronger. (She's usually right!)Nice to have you here, Alicia!