Dear Readers, I am POOPED. But class is still going well and I’m still having fun with this intensive workshop setting. It’s the last day of the Sprint Week workshop, but I still have a few hours to go before class. I’m neck-deep in my story, which I will post later tonight once I’m finished with workshop and all the things that go with it. For now I want to post what we wrote for yesterday and give it some context.
The assignment for yesterday was to write up two possible story beginnings or “entrances,” since we’re still using the giant extended metaphor of the house for this week’s theme. Kelcey talked about how the opening to your story should entrance your readers into continuing to read — we should welcome them into our house, make them want to step inside.
My story, since I want to do a ghostly tale, is hopefully going to accomplish a couple of things. I wanted to get a sense of the “ghost” through the form of the piece, not through actually writing the word “ghost.” I think it’s more fun when there is a hidden element that you’re striving toward, a kernel that isn’t quite readily on the page but can be found if you dig deep enough. For me, that’s my ghost. So I decided to start with a woman’s death (one who is climbing The Shard like those Greenpeace women who did it in 2012 — I talked about it yesterday) but have her die throughout the whole story by having the main character constantly think about it — the woman is my ghost, and she’s dead in the first line, but the main character keeps killing her over and over in his head with his memory of watching her fall from The Shard (the moments in italics).
Here are my two openings. These are really rough, and since writing these I’ve revised the story to kind of represent a happy medium between the two. Let me know your thoughts!
The moment I watched a woman plummet fifty-two stories to her death is a moment I would like to forget but probably won’t.
Her shirt: green.
Her pants: brown.
Her politics: Greenpeace.
The date: 11 July 2014
Time: 4:27 p.m.
I watched the whole thing happen. Six women with agendas in the minds and a protest song on their lips came climbing up the side of The Shard, and they thought we wouldn’t notice?
It’s a regular day. Breezy. Sunny. Light flows through this building like water over stone: smooth, clean, unbroken.
The walls are glass, for god’s sake. I can see all of London from my office.
The women arrive at the building and begin to climb. No one notices for approximately two hours, at which point they arrive at the window of one Mr. Gerald Tims, the notorious gossip of the office.
God, and her dead eyes, staring at me from the window, even though she wasn’t dead yet.
One hand in front of the other, the man in the uniform said through the thick glass.
I know, she mouthed. And that was when she fell.
Henry watched the whole thing happen from his cubicle. It had been such a normal workday until the woman scaling a building in protest—scaling a building in protest, even the words sounded stupid—fell to her inevitable death from the fifty-second floor of The Shard. He had been minding his own business—literally; he had been engrossed in work for his side project that had nothing to do with this job—when the commotion started downstairs.
The first phone call he received, he disregarded, because it was Tims. Tims was the insufferable balding gossip on the third floor. The second phone call, he also ignored, because it was a telemarketer. The third was Emergency Services.
Despite the roughness of these first two starts, I actually feel pretty good about they way the story going right now. Hope you’ll check back in when I post the completed project later this evening!
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