Getting it Right

Gardening is a whole lot like work at the beginning. I should know - I spent this afternoon (no humidity, yeah!) digging up scraggly pansies and replacing them. Couldn't find the exact shade of salmon vinca I wanted, made do with something else, and am still not satisfied. I'll work at finding what I want, and until I do, I won't give up.

It felt a whole lot like I was starting a new book. Searching for the exact opening sentence. The right words to make the book "sound" right. Going through racks and racks of plants, hunting and pecking for the precisely correct color. Openings are so important - they can make or break you. Just like a flower garden in the front yard sets the tone for the rest of the plantings.

As I drive down a two-laned road near my house, I marvel at those homeowners who have bedecked their roadsides with a jubilation of colorful plants. Riots of color. I get their pride, their color schemes, how hard they've worked to make that first glimpse of their properties just so. Other houses have bedraggled entrances, weeds sky high. The yards may be neatly trimmed, but that first impression is one of neglect and laissez faire. Too bad.

Those first three pages of a novel are, like the gardens I see near my house, crucial to how you'll perceive the rest of the story. Make them killer. Grab the readers' "eyes," and they'll keep going for the rest of the ride.