Guest Writercize - Brianna Renshaw - Book Blurb to Opener

Welcome this week to Brianna Renshaw, the deliciously honest and raw writer over at Pocketful of Playdough.  Brianna and I met through the A to Z Challenge, and I always enjoy her voice and the sentiment behind her posts.  I highly recommend her blog and that you sign up to become a follower - she always has something worthwhile to read, sharing her personal truths about being a writer,parenting,running and religion.

(Btw, my apologies for a week long pause here at writercize - out of town guests and the Halloween holiday have blown this week by at warp speed.  I don't quite know how that happens!  Expect me back and exercising those brain muscles all week next week!)

Without further ado, today's guest post ...

Good morning, Writercizers! Are you ready to work out those writing muscles?
Wait, I can’t hear you…
Alright! That’s the spirit! Let’s get moving!
First let’s stretch a bit – crack your knuckles, wiggle those fingers and take a few deep breaths! Now we’re ready to begin.
As writers we all know how important the first sentence of our story is. It’s the hook that’s either going to capture the attention of editors and readers or bore them to tears. No pressure, right?
Not if we are regularly working out our writing muscles! Here’s an exercise focusing on writing strong first sentences:
Read the back-cover blurb of a book and then write an opening sentence.
The beauty of this exercise is that not only does it allow you to practice writing an attention-grabbing opening sentence; it could also be a stepping stone to an original book of your own!
 You are free to use whatever back-cover book blurb you like or use the three samples from the genres of science fiction, mystery and romance below. Write a first sentence for all three, or just one, and share it in the comments section.
Science Fiction
On the North Pole of Pluto there stands an enigma: a huge circle of standing blocks of ice, built on the pattern of Earth’s Stonehenge –but ten times the size, standing alone at the farthest reach of the Solar System. What is it? Who came there to build it?
The secret lies, perhaps, in the chaotic decades of the Martian Revolution, in the lost memories of those who have lived for centuries.
~Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson, 1984, ISBN 0-312-86609-7~
Not much happens in Contrary, West Virginia –a sleepy town with failing coal mines, a few old moonshine stills, and an urgent need for revenue. A federal grant for a nonexistent bus system seemed just the ticket…if only the government auditor, sent to look things over, hadn’t drunk to much white lightening. And ended up dead.
Now his successor, Owen Allison, has come down from D.C. to check out the situation. Disgruntled with his life inside the Beltway, Owen is willing to give Contrary’s officials the benefit of the doubt –and himself some time to romance Mary Beth, the alluring town controller. He soon feels like seventeen different kinds of fool. Because something has long been fermenting in Contrary besides corn mash. Another body has been found. And Owen may be next…unless he uncovers the big secrets hidden in the hearts of a small Appalachian town.
~The Contrary Blues by John Billheimer, 1998, ISBN 0-440-23504-9~
Innocence was the only word to describe Mary Frances Murphy. Expelled from a convent, her only sin was desire: For intimacy. For experience. For true carnal knowledge. Once forbidden, these things were now within her reach –as she searched for her sister’s killer in a world of staged seduction, virtual passion, and fantasy made flesh. But Mary Frances had never even been touched by a man…let alone a man like Webb Calderon. A man whose erotic finesse was as vast –and dangerous—as his empire. A man who could devour her innocence…and kill her with pleasure.
~ Innocence by Suzanne Forster, 1997 ISBN 0-425-15663-X~
Read this writercizer’s response below (as in Brianna! Alana's will be posted as comment):
My attempt at a first sentence for Icehenge:
The discovery changed the universe, but no one remembered.
My attempt at a first sentence for The Contrary Blues:
Every small town has secrets and Contrary was no exception.
My attempt at a first sentence for Innocence:
It was during Mass when the prospect of what was under Monsignor Alexander’s robe got her so hot and bothered her habit was in danger of going up in flames  that Mary Frances first thought being a nun wasn’t her true calling.


  1. Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson -- My attempt at a first sentence:

    I overlook the icy structure and know that I'm the only one who knows the truth; the secret that I intend to keep to the death.

    Sorry, it's very rough.

  2. Ok, I have been dually excited and petrified to attempt this. A first sentence is such a HUGE deal! Finally grabbed some books off the shelf and sitting down to write now.

    Brilliant exercise Brianna.

    And goodness, this guest blog thing is really making me realize how brave you all are for trying out my exercises. Thank you truly for your bravery and participation! I LOVE to see what each and every commenter comes up with, particularly when trying out the exercises!!

  3. I gave up the books from my shelf, stained by the fact that I've read them and am stunted in creating something new, printed out this post, and dove into your samples.

    These first sentences are supremely long (ok, so one is three sentences) and would be edited down, but this gets to be a first draft, right? ;)

    Intergalactic Private Eye Madeline Busacic had barely made it through the door to her studio apartment when her left lobe began to beep. "Maddy, we just discovered the Stonehenge copycat has desecrated Pluto; they're getting closer. Grab your gear and go!"

    The Contrary Blues:
    The bus schedule on the pole stood as a gloomy reminder of not one, but two deaths: one a long-dead economy and the other a deceased outsider who had tried to revive it.

    A true blue gemini through and through, commitment-phobe Mary Frances had joined the convent to deal with her bipolar feelings about men, for it was either swear off men as a nun or engage in the "more the merrier" sentiment she also felt, and the sisterhood felt like a safer choice.

  4. Thanks Dawn and Alana for giving them a try! I enjoyed reading them.

    Alana- I deliberately chose books off my shelf that I've never read because I felt like a cheater if I'd read the entire book ;) I love what you came up with for all three -especially The Contrary Blues -Super clever writing!


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