We are both having a crazy week, so we decided to switch blog posts and bring back a blast from the past. Enjoy learning from a master!
Just don't forget to join the converstation!
by Vonda Skelton
And it was all because of my opening paragraph.
Here's what I initially submitted:
Have you ever had a field trip that changed your life? Lindsay Knauer has. She was ten years old when her home school group planned a special field trip to learn about fencing. "I didn't think I would like it, but I did." Like Lindsay, a lot of kids are finding out how much fun fencing is.
The editor's response was kind, but his words roughly translated to something akin to, "Y-A-W-N!!!!!!!!!!"
Lindsay and I collaborated on the rewrite and hit the jackpot:
The air is filled with the crashing and clanking of weapons. Screams of victory and cries of defeat echo all around me. Scoring machines screech high-pitched beeps that set my nerves on end. The score is four- four. The next touch determines the winner.
I have only a few seconds to plan my attack. Suddenly the director calls, "Ready! Fence!" My heart pounds. Rapid footwork takes me to my opponent. Weapons slice the air, metal cracks metal. I lunge for my opponent. Will it be victory or defeat?
Big difference, huh?
In my original paragraph, I made many mistakes.
- The first was starting with a question. Think about it. If you open with a question and the answer is yes, the reader doesn't feel he needs to continue because he already knows what you're going to write about. If the answer is no, the reader believes the piece isn't of interest to him and he moves on. Either way, you lose the reader.
- The second mistake was that the paragraph was just plain boring! And, in case you haven't learned anything else, I hoped you've learned that boring is bad. Really bad.
So as you write your book or article or short story, remember to use the senses, tension, and action to draw the reader in. And chances are, you'll draw the editor in, too.
And that's good. Really good.