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Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
Go Ahead — Write This Story: Open without credits 
17th-Jul-2013 03:59 pm
Bottle of Oregano

You can learn a lot about storytelling from the movies — but some of those lessons do not apply to written works. In particular, movies have traditionally started slowly, sometimes showing scenery or general background activities, like the heroine driving a car. But what’s really happening is the showing of the opening credits, and movie-makers don’t want footage that will compete with the names of the actors and director for the viewer’s attention. In written fiction, you want to engage the reader’s attention from the first paragraph, if possible from the first sentence, maybe even from the first word.

If you need a fast-starting story idea, here are a few:

• This is a hard SF short story about the possibility that stone artifacts from a lost civilization have sentience.

• This is a traditional horror story in which the spirits of those who were dissatisfied with their final hours as mortals try to unite to find peace.

• This is a sibling rivalry story about a photojournalist documenting the Second Dustbowl who is accepted into a tribe of Wyoming Bedouin.

— Sue Burke

17th-Jul-2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
The ghosts were making love when I entered the library.

"Er, excuse me, sorry, I'll come back later," I said.

"Too late, mortal!" The male ghost threw the female's feather boa round my neck. Suddenly, even though I could not feel nor hardly see it, I could not breathe. "Mortal," he went on, "you have interrupted our only rendevous for 100 years -- unless you can give us another sooner, by finding the MacGuffin."


The other ideas don't seem so easy for a catchy opening. Unless it's another first person telling it in a catchy way. Maybe some scientists could be discussing the artifacts.
18th-Jul-2013 06:06 am (UTC)
Good start. Keep going!
18th-Jul-2013 06:33 am (UTC)
In third person, we could get more info in faster.

The ghosts were making love when Lord Grantham entered the drawing room.

That's all I've got, though. ;-)

Edited at 2013-07-18 06:34 am (UTC)
18th-Jul-2013 11:21 pm (UTC)
That last one certainly fits my apocalyptic mindset. And some most of my poetry sales to Asimov's have an apocalyptic bent, why not? :) Thanks!
19th-Jul-2013 12:46 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! I hope it results in a big sale.
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