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Opening Paragraphs - A Little Help?
Trailer Bride
Posted: Saturday, July 2, 2011 4:48 PM
Joined: 5/8/2011
Posts: 31

So I've received two very useful pieces of advice in the last few day and I'd appreciate a little help/opinion if that's OK?

The opening paragraph of Puta currently reads as follows:

Monday morning. Eleven o’clock. The Galleria. I'm listening to old school disco on my iPhone, checking out the window display at Abercrombie, and watching the reflection of a skinny white girl with fake boobs over by Victoria's Secret.

She's holding a large pink and purple striped shopping bag and she's making out with the Mexican pretty boy who's paid for her new underwear. And the dress from Betsey Johnson. And whatever she got at Armani. If this shopping spree’s an incentive, it seems to be working. If it's a reward, pretty boy obviously got his money's worth.

Either way, his name is José Aguilar Guzman and you'd be making a huge mistake if you judged him by his boy-band good looks because José is as nasty as they come. Not so much a wolf in sheep's clothing as a rabid wolverine with a rocket launcher and gang tattoos, he's a senior member of Mara Salvatrucha in Houston. Los Mareros. MS-13.

José's companion in face-sucking is Mallory Carpenter. The daughter of a recently retired local sporting hero. She has to know she's slumming. That's probably a big part of the appeal. But she seems to have no idea she's swimming with sharks.

Ignorance may be bliss but being clueless can be fatal.

Now, based on feedback from Jack Cerro - a very clever gentleman - and my own father - not so much - I am toying with moving the line about ignorance and bliss and slightly reworking the opening to read like this:

They say ignorance is bliss but I know sometimes being clueless can be fatal.

It’s eleven o’clock on Monday morning and I’m at the Galleria. Multitasking. Listening to old school disco on my iPhone, checking out the window display at Abercrombie, and watching the reflection of a skinny white girl with fake boobs over by Victoria's Secret.


In other news, since we're having this little chat, I'm also open to any advice on my excessive use of apostrophes: he's, she's, who's, cetera.

L R Waterbury
Posted: Friday, July 15, 2011 12:58 AM
Joined: 4/28/2011
Posts: 60

I like the line the way it is, but I agree that you might want to move it to the beginning.

I'm more concerned with the description of the guy as a "pretty boy" and having "boy-band good looks." That does not give me the image of a gang-banger from the Mara Salvatrucha. I'm imagining Ricky Martin instead.
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 12:44 AM
Joined: 3/15/2011
Posts: 14

I like the idea of the "ignorance is bliss" line coming first, too - it kind of gives the reader a moment to orient themselves before you start giving out details of the scene. Also a big fan of the rabid wolverine line.

I didn't notice the excessive apostrophes but I did feel like there were a lot of proper nouns in this segment, which was a little confusing. It takes my brain (and I'm not an avid shopper, so this may just be me) a few moments before I remember that Betsey Johnson and Armani are brands, not characters, and it makes it harder for me to remember the names of the actual characters when they're surrounded by the brand names.

Maybe a few of those brand names could be swapped out for more specific, physical details, like what color and fabric the Betsey Johnson dress is, for example. I think the actual band or song the narrator is listening to would be more important than mentioning the iPhone, too. That would help me get a better sense of the characters right away.
Trailer Bride
Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2011 2:42 PM
Joined: 5/8/2011
Posts: 31

Wow! I got some feedback

Thank you!

I've decided not to move the line or rewrite, EXCEPT I am going to lose the brand name iPhone. If I recall rightly I'd only just got mine when I wrote it - late adopter - and I was far too pleased with myself.

Some other comments - boy band good looks, other brand names - are going to feed into my next (and hopefully penultimate) major rewrite.

Thanks again.


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