1. Can you see it.
2. Do you care about what happens?
3. If the answer to #2 is no, what is missing? I know that not every genre is for everyone, but I believe there are common elements of strong writing across all genres. I want to hone this opening until it makes the reader want to turn the page and care.
Version D (?) – 1st
two paragraphs : Life. Senetence.
Two parallel lines. A crosswalk. It was the safest way
to get from this side of the street to the other side, where they could let the
dogs off leash. About six months ago, this very crosswalk had been repainted
in burnt gold and upgraded with tiny lights that would blink when in use. As
Magen approached the corner where her family already stood, soda in one hand, dog leash in the other, she noticed her husband pushing the button to activate those tiny lights.
“Abby, walk your bike,” she reminded her daughter in French, the language they spoke to each other. Abby grunted in response, slowing down her bike enough to come off the saddle. Zigzag and Buttercup were minding well, sitting at the edge of the curb just waiting for their masters to give them the go ahead to cross the street. Sipping her soda, the hot afternoon sun beat down on her head, rays of heat boring into her brain. Why did you
invite everyone? You know you needed time alone. But she had invited them along because that’s what a good person does. That’s what a good mom does.
Magen’s flip flops clacked against the bottom of her feet as she stepped onto the black asphalt of the road, between the perfectly parallel lines. Isaac was saying something to her. Something about a car. Seriously. I just needed a break. I still need one.
“…right?” she caught the last word of her husband’s
thought as the visual before her filled in the rest. A white Mercedes was
barreling toward their little family, all vulnerable in that lit up crosswalk. Without
thinking, she ran ahead of her daughter, making herself as big as her 5’2”
frame could manage. Perhaps cars were like lions and would stop if they saw something threatening. But in her white running shorts and tank top, Magen was far from threatening. Until rage started bubbling up from deep within.
“She’s speeding up and swerving!” Isaac yelled as Magen
stood her ground. Nobody would hit her family in a crosswalk. Not on her watch.
She felt herself begin to tremble. It wasn’t fear. This was anger from deep down in her gut that had just needed a reason.
“No! Abby!” she screamed back at her husband. Abby was
frozen in between her parents, dogs in tow. The car was approaching and Magen
couldn’t tell if it was slowing down. She remained firm, waving her arms, soda spraying
everywhere, the dog leash limp on the ground. The car finally came to an abrupt stop, a generous distance in front of spectacle in the crosswalk. All Magen
could see was the oversized visor shading the woman’s face behind the wheel of
“Slow the fuck down, bitch!” screamed Magen, walking
deliberately toward the offensive vehicle in a lazy daze of rage.
“Sweety! Stop!” Isaac had almost made it to the other side of the street. Magen was smack in the middle of the road, Buttercup forgotten at her feet. Now, inches from the driver’s side window, Magen slapped the glass with her hand spilling soda all over her own arm and the ground, screaming obscenities at the woman as she drove away. You are such an idiot. Who does that?
“Abby,” Magen fell
into step beside her daughter who was walking her bike the rest of the way
across the street, “That was probably not the best way to handle that