Thursday, March 3, 2011

Writing Exercise II: Write an opening paragraph and grab the reader

"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.)

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