Writing Exercises – Emma and Nathan

by MW Cook

I have decided to write some opening scenes for novels I never intend to write. I don’t know the stories behind these openings, but I want to analyze them to see what sort of story could be expected from them.

     Nathan took Emma’s face in her hands and kissed him. The kiss was deep and honest. It was their first. Emma felt sick in the middle of it, knowing it would be their last.
     “I love you,” Nathan whispered. He pulled back and gazed deep into Emma’s eyes. “I love you so much.”
     Emma stroked his cheek. “I love you, too.” It was not a lie.
     He pulled her close and hugged her. It was better than the kiss. Easier. Emma reached into her sleeve and pulled out a thin dagger. A flick of the wrist and it was done.
     Nathan noticed the wetness before the pain. He reached up and touched the place on his neck where she cut him.
     Emma pulled back and looked at the questions in Nathan’s eyes as his life drained from his throat.
     “I’m sorry,” she muttered as she cleaned her knife on Nathan’s sweater.

     Some promises are made right off the bat. First, Emma is the protagonist. She’s the only interesting character that’s not dead, after all.
     Second, the stakes are high and violent. This novel cannot be about Emma trying to find a cute guy or trying to outdo her high-school rival. Unless her high-school rival is running around killing people. It’s gotta be dark or else it’s disingenuous.
     Short, choppy paragraphs help in violent or action-filled scenes. It makes things feel quick.