Now read this.
Kristina Fugate, over at KayKay’s Corner, is hosting a blogfest today and tomorrow about openings — specifically, how the first 500 or so words of your book (or manuscript) have to grab readers, because if you haven’t grabbed them by then, it’s too late.
Andy hauled himself up the last flight of stairs. He was so hot his glasses had fogged up. Stupid, medieval, Cairo elevators were always breaking down. It was his one beef with living in Egypt. He staggered, panting and sweaty, to 10C and almost fell inside when his mother opened the door before he could get his key into the lock.
He saluted limply. “Ahlan, ya Momma!”
She glared at him. “Try English this time.”
“Don’t you want me to practice my Arabic? Okay, okay.” He opened his eyes really wide and smiled with all his teeth. “Hiya Mom!” He said it like he was as all-American as apple pie and Indiana cornfields, instead of a diplomat’s kid who spoke three languages and who had lived in six different countries before he was eleven. Did they even have cornfields in Indiana? Andy couldn’t remember. Then he decided he didn’t care.
His mom rolled her eyes, but her mouth twitched. “Well, I guess that’s a bit better. I have to go back to the embassy for a few hours. Will you be all right here by yourself?” She let him push past her into the cool apartment. He dropped his bag in the corner and stood directly under the air-conditioning vent, letting cold air wash over him like a shower. He took his glasses off and wiped them on his shirt.
“I’m going out with Ahmed, remember? To his Uncle Karim’s shop.”
“Oh, right. Well, call me when you’re ready to come home and I’ll swing by and get you.” She picked up her briefcase. “Do you need something to eat? If you leave now, I can give you a lift to Ahmed’s place.”
Andy shook his head. “He’s waiting for me at school. I’m just going to change and then I’m going back.”
“All right. Dad has rehearsal tonight so he won’t be home until late.”
“Bye Mom,” said Andy.
“Yes, all right, all right. I’m going.”
“Elevator’s broken again!” he yelled after her cheerfully, and heard her groan before the heavy door slammed shut. Served her right for insisting they rent an apartment on the top floor. “Less dusty,” she said. “Less noisy.” Hah.
Andy stood for another minute in the fall of cool air, letting the sweat on his face and neck evaporate. Then he quickly changed out of his school uniform, grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator and left.
Andy crashed through the front door of his building and waved to Abu Mohammed, who was sweeping the sidewalk in front of the building next to his. He ran through the streets of the tiny island neighborhood of Zamalek, dodging the donkey carts and koshari sellers, leaping curbs and broken chunks of concrete. He dashed across 26th of July Street, not looking where he was going, paying no attention to the cars honking at him. If he waited for a gap in the traffic, he’d be waiting all day.
So, did it grab you? Would you read on? Feel free to offer comments, critiques, coffee, support, chocolate, insights, questions and whatnot in the comments. If you prefer, you can email me your thoughts: fmamendolia AT gmail DOT com.