Hello and welcome to the October 2019 issue of Aphelion!
The heat wave in the Southeastern US has gotten a much-needed
break, today. Feels like we've had triple-digit temperatures for half
the year, now. Today, it was actually feeling like Autumn. we got a
little touch of rain, as well. I can't remember a Summer as protracted
and as unpleasant as this one. But for today, we finally got lower
70s-maybe even upper 60 degree temperatures. OK, it might have been
lower 80s to upper 70s, but I almost had to put a shirt on! I'm used to
spending Summer wearing swim trunks as my at-home daily attire, but all
the way into October is a tad unusual. I find that ice cream and cold
beverages help, LOL! but in any case, today felt good.
OK, my above paragraph verged on "it was a dark and stormy night"
territory. That's why most writers avoid discussing the weather in the
opening page of a story. Weather is backdrop scenery. Unless your story
is about a hurricane or a tornado or some record-breaking flooding
rain, it's pretty safe to let that stuff wait until you've gotten a few
paragraphs in. Now, some writers can nail a good balance between
establishing a lead character and whatever their character's
environment is doing at the time. But that can be a hard balance to
strike. "Jak the bounty hunter stood with his back pressed against the
coarse bricks of the outer wall of the theater as the rain in the alley
came pelting down like a fire hose being used as a weapon. His target
was late, but not as late as Jak intended to make them..." is a far
better opening than "it was a dark and stormy night." Opening
paragraphs are sometimes difficult to craft. You've got to establish
your hook, and your opening character's POV, and set the stage--all at
the same time. See what I mean? It's a matter of focus for the
scene you're creating. Focus on your character, their motivation, their
backstory--then get to the environment that forms the set dressing.
Character first, then the backdrop.
As I said, that can work, but only if you've grabbed your reader's
attention first. They have to be interested enough to keep reading.
Lose them in the first paragraph, and they likely won't keep going.
Grab them with the first paragraph, and they're hooked, They're yours.
Ideally, your first sentence should get their attention, and give them
a reason to keep reading. Narrative hooks are not easy. But if you come
up with a good one, any further transgressions will be easier for the
reader to read past and keep reading for the rest of the story.
"Jak checked his weapon, underneath his dark gray cloak, for the
third time in as many minutes, as the rain kept pelting down. The
target was late. The carefully-crafted schedule of the target's habits
didn't take into account the vagaries of mere weather. Something was
wrong. Not just the way stray raindrops constantly found their way
inside the collar of his shirt, despite his broad-brimmed hat and
upturned collar. The target had changed their routine. Was it only the
rain, or had someone warned them of Jak's pursuit? Idle thoughts,
perhaps. but serious considerations, all the same..."
I'll shut up and
let you get to reading the new stories, LOL!
Title:Coils of Apep
Photo Credit: ESO/Callingham et al.