Another 7 Suspenseful Sentences (?)

15Jan11

It’s a good thing I don’t have a lisp, this could get embarrassing. Worse than Thithton Thithtertinton.*

Now then – I thought it would be fun to post the first 7 sentences of Diary of a Small Fish, because the opening underwent a final transformation immediately prior to submission to publishers. The explanation is worth more than the excerpt.

My awesome agent, Christine Witthohn, has an uncanny “gut” that is a big reason why she’s sold so many debut novels in the past year (and was rewarded for her success by being nominated for Agent of the Year by her colleagues). Her sense of the original opening was that it needed more tension. How much more? I don’t know – see if you think this is enough…

I used to play an obscene amount of golf at the exclusive Hyannisport Club. I knew at the time it was reckless, but I never thought it was a federal crime.

At the beginning of perfectly glorious Labor Day weekend, I sat on the back deck of my Cotuit home, cleaning my Pings, preparing for the typical holiday Friday afternoon: eighteen holes, a few martinis and a well-aged New York strip.

Life was good. Then the doorbell rang.

I opened the door to see a United States Marshal glaring at me with a stone face. He wore a black suit with a badge on the left pocket as big as a pastrami sandwich. His jacket was pulled back on the side to display a very large gun on his hip.**

 

Thith is the thecond thegment of Thuthpenthful Theven Thententh Thunday.

_______

*Free FB shout-out to the first who can identify the reference.

** Here’s the original:

I used to play an obscene amount of golf at the exclusive Hyannisport Club. I admit it was a little reckless, but I never thought it amounted to a federal crime.

At the beginning of Labor Day weekend, I sat on the back deck of my Cotuit home, cleaning my Pings, when the doorbell rang. A United States Marshal in a black suit with shiny gold nameplate identified himself and asked if I was Paul B. Forté. I said yes, so he handed me a subpoena. He was very polite and professional about it. Sort of like a Maitre d’. I offered him a glass of water, but he said he had to get back to Boston. He gave me an odd salute-like gesture and left.

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6 Responses to “Another 7 Suspenseful Sentences (?)”

  1. The re-deux 😉 in my opinion ratchets up the suspense quite well. I particularly like, “Life was good. Then the doorbell rang.” 🙂 Thanks for sharing the metamorphosis.

  2. Living in New English (Boston area), I can relate to the Cape, etc. Sounds like a good beginning. Can I have just one little quibble? How does one “glare” with a “stone face?” My inner editor just can’t shut up.
    This is a book I would like the read.

    • Hello Judy! Thanks for visiting – by rare coincidence, I just read BAD TRIP from the Quarry anthology. My mental image comes from the 20 years I represented police officers for the union – that stone-faced look they seem to be trained to make, which has a piercing stare behind it – but yeah, perhaps “glare” doesn’t work quite as I wanted. Glad to have your (free) assistance.

  3. 4 Phillipa Fioretti

    I actually like the second one better for its droll tone, but the first one does have more suspense

  4. 5 Sian

    Speaking of lithpth…

    Doctor: Big breaths.

    Girl: Yeth, and I’m only thixthteen!

    But seriously, folks – you’re Chandlering. I LIKE it!

  5. 6 Audrey Webb

    I like your reworked version because what we’re told about the US Marshal is all action, less about what he says or how he comes across. We don’t know that he’s polite and professional, we don’t know that he’s there to deliver a subpoena…we just know he has a badge and a gun — he seems much more menacing now than he was in the first draft.

    Ahem…Do I count eight sentences? ;^)


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