So, courtesy of one of Sandy Blair's wonderful online classes (SandyBlair.net), here it is, a fantastic opening paragraph example:
While smoke from a dozen rush torches wafted about the rafters like worried ghosts, Ian MacKay studied the men and women milling about Stirling's great hall. Each, he'd decided long ago, was either flint or kindling. Each, whether they kenned it or not, had the capacity to turn Scotland into a raging inferno.
Something he'd willingly die to prevent.Wow! Isn't that amazing what this brilliant author (also Sandy Blair, from her book A Thief in a Kilt) revealed to her reader with only sixty-three words.
Normally, we authors take longer to set up the integral who, what, when, where, why, how—much less the hero's goal, his fears, planting seeds for the black moment. But this excerpt ups the ante for me.
Since I write contemporary, I don't have worlds to contend with per se. In fact, I consider my world pretty generic to any country or people as I deal with the universality of emotions. Therefore I don't always note the geographic locale. If I were a fantasy or sci-fi author, that would be more of an issue. A necessary character even. But not so much for my romance genre.
As a Deep South gal, I do have southern settings and, if not boldly declared, give hints with food, architecture, speech. But my stories could be had in a snowbound cabin in Oregon as well. I'm just not familiar with that part of our country, so I stick with what I know.
Anyway, I hope you love my example as much as I do. Better yet, I hope it spurs you on in your own writing.
Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor