Monday, October 18, 2010

First Paragraph

I decided to blow the cyberdust off a manuscript I wrote a few years ago. Like many consultants, I was laid off after 9/11. I gave myself permission to write a book while I was looking for a job. I also gave myself six months to find a job. I did both in the allotted time.

I was afraid the manuscript would be so dreadful that the Delete key would be my friend. I printed the whole thing out and was shocked to see it ran 1200 pages, 335,000 words. Seems like it should be three books -- or whacked by two-thirds to make it marketable. It's the story of a group of women spanning 40 years. Nothing like Ya Ya Sisterhood.

So what do you think of the newly written opening paragraph?

For nearly as long as she could remember, Patricia had thought of herself as a "Patricia." Unfortunately, no one else did. Her friends called her either Trisha or Trish, be everyone in her family called her "Sissy." The second born and eldest girl, Patricia was "sister of," not an individual. She could just have easily been called maid or babysitter or house cleaner.

Any thoughts?


  1. My best friend calls herself Patricia, I call her Tricia, and her husband calls her Trish. So I just might be an expert on this one. Ha!

    I'm guessing this is a very character driven story, so what first struck me is that I don't know what Patricia thinks "Patricia" means. Does she think of herself as sophisticated? Mature? Classy? What does she see that others do not?

    Something like: Patricia liked to think her name suited her. Intelligent. Responsible. No-nonsense. So what did it mean that everyone else insisted on calling her "Trish."

    I obviously have no idea what the story is about, and my example might be way off base--take it or leave it:) I do like the idea of this character, though. Either no one really knows her, or she doesn't really know herself. Fun!

  2. Rhiannon, you are not far off base with your comments about what "Patricia" means to the character. I planned to develop it more strongly on the next page through a scene that shows her position in her family. She's only 12, but she's unhappy not having the identity she was given at birth. She knows who she is and wants to be but feels held back by her family. And at twelve, that's probably the majority of us, not the minority of us. Only one person much later in the story will call her Patricia.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I take every one to heart.