Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Most Compelling Words in the History of Time

Let's play the Opening Paragraph game, folks. It's very simple. I post the opening paragraphs to my various novels, and you decide which one is most compelling and which opening paragraph most makes you want to read the rest of the novel. Sound fun? No? Oh, well, let's play anyway.

Children of the Mechanism 

First came the screaming, the sound of some monstrous thing crying out from the darkness. Then came the babbling, a boy wordlessly pleading for help, and one sound melted into the other. Bik fled from it, fighting his way out of the dream, but the noise chased him, turning at the end into the blare of the morning alarm. Finally, he opened his eyes in the dim, red light and heard it echoing off the metal walls, a singular note, high and harsh.

The Vale of Ghosts

Ann heard screams through the window, though the shutters had been pulled and latched and a pillow shoved into the space behind it. A tortured scream, the scratchy warbling howl of a monster. She was crouched in the dirt beneath the windowsill, jabbing a crooked stick into the ground between her feet and trying to appear like she wasn’t listening, like she hadn’t a care in the world. A ladybug landed on her knee, and she offered it the end of the stick. It climbed onto the stick, and she held it up into the air until it flew away.

Shadows of Tockland

David spotted him first, the old man with the scabs on his head lurching out of his seat on the front row, clapping his big, gnarled hands as he shuffled toward the stage. Bubbles the Clown was the current performer, a petite woman in a loose, silvery costume. She had a bamboo pole balanced on her open palm, a large ceramic plate spinning on top of it. The tent was filled to overflowing, but the attention of most people was drawn upward to the wobbling plate. Consequently, the old man got all the way to the stage without anyone hindering him. He gave one last clap, did a little stutter step on his bare feet, and lunged at Bubbles, snagging one of her billowing pant legs.

Garden of Dust and Thorns 

The shapes of men materialized out of the dust clouds, bodies wreathed in loose cloth of black and gray. Hoods and veils hid their faces, but they moved with purpose, marching in ranks. Though the distance was great, Adhi saw the glint of polished blades, of long silver spears and curved scimitars, catching the heavy rays of the lowering sun as it sank below the ridge in the west. She counted over three dozen men, but there were more of them behind the wall of dust. She saw a hint of movement, as of dozens more, gathering in the open land between the dunes.

Dreams in the Void

A man in a tattered leather jerkin and pale blue doublet writhed in the shadowy space between the rocks, clawing at his clothes. Jeren spotted him from the cliff’s edge as he braced himself against a skeletal tree. The highway ran a twisting course through a steep ravine, winding its way toward the snow-capped peaks in the west. Tumbled rocks lined the road here and there, piled up in some places to create makeshift walls, safe places to camp when the harsh winds howled down from the mountains. It was in one of these places that the man lay, kicking at the rocks and thrashing.

Mary of the Aether

The lunatic in the long, gray cloak dashed out of the forest and ran right up onto the front yard, waving his arms in front of him like a child playing tag. He skirted the porch, paused, turned a complete circle and fell onto his hands and knees. A hood obscured most of his face, but Mary could see the tip of a pointy chin covered in whiskers. She sat at the living room window, leaning against the sill and resting her forehead against the cold glass, transfixed by the sight. The crazy man crawled through the high, un-mowed grass, his face close to the ground, shifting back and forth like a bloodhound chasing a scent. He stopped at the driveway, lifted his head and appeared to sniff at the air. Then he scooped up a handful of gravel and sifted it through his fingers.

Okay, folks, that's a whole passel of opening paragraphs just for you. Which one, based on the paragraph alone, makes you want to read the rest of the book?