"You look really sexy with your hair down," he says from the pool. "You should wear it like that more often." That's when I realize he's been watching me lay the bobby pins on the glass patio table after unwinding the bun. I know everyone who lives along the tree-lined paths of the townhouses surrounding the communal pool. But I've never seen this man before. I take odd jobs babysitting, washing cars, cleaning houses, watering plants--even putting on the pool cover at night. Each afternoon I strip off my ballet leotard, put on a bathing suit and dive into the water, away from the summer heat. But today is different. I'm used to adults telling my parents you have a beautiful daughter, but no one has ever called me sexy.
I adapted the piece above for an assignment for my MFA Writing Workshop at University of San Francisco: Write a first paragraph, no more than 150 words. (Draw the reader into the story with dramatic action and characters in a setting.)
My professor, Lowell Cohn, wrote: "Terrific opening. Good that you started with the quote. Powerful last line. Could lead to a delightfully creepy novel." (Well, in this case it would be "memoir" about a series of male perpetrators I encountered who preyed upon 4th to 6th grade girls. I wouldn't mind fictionalizing it for a short story though.)
Dear Reader: Try it! Write a first paragraph that makes the reader want more. Send it my way and I'll post it. (Look at the prior post and future posts for more exercises.)