Friday, March 4, 2011

Wanna Read the Opening Paragraphs of My Book?

Oftentimes, the advice you're given as a writer is to work on your opening more than you work on any other part of your book. This makes sense since, obviously, this is the first impression a reader will get of your work (and definitely the first impression a prospective agent or editor will get too). And if they're not hooked by page five or so, there's a good chance you've lost them.

My opening paragraphs of THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST have changed a bit from what I wrote in September of 2007, when I first sat down with this character on my brain. But bizarrely enough, as many drafts and revisions and titles as there were of this manuscript (see here and here), my very first sentence hasn't changed at all. And the actual setting/plot of my first scene hasn't either.

It's been an exciting week for me book news-wise, so I'd like to cap it off by sharing the first two paragraphs of THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST. It'll be the first-ever "public" excerpt of my book. Ready?

Goldenrod Moram had a first name that sounded like it belonged in the middle of a fairy tale, where she would be the dazzling princess in need of rescuing. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. For one thing, fairy-tale princesses probably didn't get in trouble practically every day of the fifth grade. (Then again, they probably didn't talk back much either.) For another, fairy-tale princesses probably had more than one friend in the whole entire world. (And, if they didn’t, they at least had servants or courtiers or some such other fan base that could pass for friends.)

But Goldenrod had only been named Goldenrod because her mother was an avid gardener and her father had lost the coin toss on the day of her birth. Had her father won, she might have been named after one of his hobbies, which included cooking and amateur house repair. When daydreaming, Goldenrod often thought about all the other things she could have been called and how they would all have been preferable: Oregano Moram, Staple Gun Moram, Brisket Moram, Spark Plug…

There it is, world! I hope it's compelling enough to make you want to read about a year.

Speaking of which, THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST is now on Goodreads! You can take a look/add it to your shelves/squee with me here. I've been a member/avid proponent of Goodreads since 2008 (that's like 27 years in Internet years), but I just became a Goodreads author this week (8 months in I.y.)!


  1. Can't wait for the rest (and the cover)!!

  2. Awesome opening. I feel like I know Goldenrod well just from these two paragraphs.

    I love that she talks back, and that her parents decided her name based on a coin toss! Looking forward to more.

  3. I love when humor shows its lopsided grin right from the opening. Thanks for sharing this! Can't wait to read more~


  4. Thanks so much, Amanda! What lovely feedback.