In keeping with the posts I did on novel openings last week, I’d like to pretend that chapter 2 is the opener of Coral Moon and show you how Brandilyn Collins presents the character and setting. (The first short chapter is from the villain’s pov, and we don’t learn a lot about him: specifically, just enough to set the stage for the conflict.)
Leslie Brymes woke to a promising day of argument and scorn.
She stretched, groggy eyes roving the master bedroom suite of her newly rented house. Sunlight seeped through her pink curtains, casting the walls and carpet a hazy mauve. Her flannel sheets were soft and warm, coaxing her back toward slumber…
As sleep morphed into awareness, her mind began to pop with names and workday duties. Eleven a.m.–interview Bud Grayson by phone. Two p.m.–Myra Hodgkid at her house. Leslie smiled, imagining the arguments of these opponents and the article she would write. Nothing like a little controversy to sell newspapers.
She slid out of bed and made her way to the bathroom, interview questions trooping through her head. Mr. Grayson, how much did publicity from the country’s fascination with the Edna San murder have to do with your decision to build a hotel in Kanner Lake? Ms. Hodgkid, why do you oppose the hotel when it promises new tax revenue for the town? As hot water in the shower hissed and pounded, Leslie considered others she might talk to, the word count she would need. Above all, how to push her story from the Kanner Lake Times pages into bigger newspapers and onto TV. The national-interest hook might still have some life in it, especially with the recent airing of her interview about the Edna San case on Crime America.
For that, she had to give her roommate a lot of credit. Paige hadn’t wanted a thing to do with any public appearances, yet didn’t try to stop Leslie from being on the show. Paige knew how much Leslie wanted it to boost her career.
The twenty-five thousand dollars hadn’t been bad either.
Leslie stepped out of the shower, anticipation zinging through her veins. She donned a bathrobe and towel-turbaned her wet hair, then parked herself in front of the closet, considering what to wear. She pulled out jeans with sequins and little pearls on the thighs, laid them on the bed, then eyed them critically.
Perfect for the sweater.
In this opening page we get a sense of Leslie’s surroundings, both her home and what makes her community tick. (Kanner Lake is practically a character in its own right.) And we see what drives Leslie. This also contains about all of the back story from the first book that is needed to get on with book 2. Does the back story feel dumped to you? Is it a good, bad, or indifferent way to hook us into the story?
Yeah, I know…I’m ignoring the real chapter one, which starts with the words Kill tonight–or die. So in this book the hook is in chapter one (2 pages), but the line and sinker are in chapter two. Confusing way to start, but it seems to work.