Thursday, June 5, 2008

Effective openings in MG and YA part 1

Now that my mind is occupied with story openings, I've been looking through Middle Grade and Young Adult books published recently to find the ones that draw me in. Here are some examples:

Click Here (to find out how I survived seventh grade)
by Denise Vega

This book starts with a prologue of sorts. It is the supposed website of the protagonist, Erin. The first line reads:

This is the totally secret and private home page of ERIN PENELOPE SWIFT.

Benign little sentence, except that it encompasses the whole story. We are introduced to Erin, we know she's into computers, we wonder why a homepage is secret ,and we get a sense of uh-oh right away because we know that anytime somebody thinks something is "totally secret and private" it will be made known to the world.

And since this book has a prologue and a chapter 1, it "gets" to present another great opening. In chapter 1, we see Erin and Jilly finding out they won't be in the same track at their new middle school.

This is yet another example where the opening contains the seed of the story. We even get a sense of their relationship in the dialogue, first when, just before they open their respective envelopes that tells them which track they'd be in,
Jilly says

"Don't jinx it, Erin."

and then

"Are you sure you read yours right?"

Erin doesn't even react to those statements, which shows that this was a normal expression of their friendship. But I am alerted to the possibility that the nature of their friendship may have a big role to play in this story. And indeed it does.

Tomorrow: Me and the Pumpkin Queen by Marlane Kennedy

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