May 24, 2013

Of Miracles and Wonders and Women Living in Trees

"You heard me," said Dejan. "I'm gonna use thin air for the walls. Thin air and nothing but."
Feist stopped laughing.
"You stayed out in the sun too long," he snapped.
"I've got a method," Dejan said.
"Oh?"
"Dryad technology."
"Dryads don't exist!" said Feist.
"Says who?"

Mardi Gras costume design for Krewe of Proteus, New Orleans, 1889. Water nymph.

I've long believed that you don't need more than 50 words to establish a premise, introduce the main character and work in some of the setting through dialog. Nothing grabs the reader like a good opening line, but the first 50 words can do a lot of work. A hell of a lot.

If the first line of a novel provides the equivalent to opening the front door and inviting people in, then the first fifty words are the smile of your hostess, the scent of jasmines, the soft golden light that pervades the hall.

As you may have guessed, Dejan is an architect. The video below planted the germ for this prompt:


P.S.: Don't miss a chance to convey a message through your characters' names. Dejan is a South Slavic name derived from the word dejati, meaning "to act, to do."

Feist resembles Faust. I could be sneaking in the old story about selling your soul to the infernal powers -- or maybe I just wanted to pay homage to Raymond E. Feist. Who knows?

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