Confession and Denial
They say confession is good for the soul. Turns out it’s also a good way to begin a book. And it’s not bad to begin with its polar opposite–a huge denial. Take a look at how these characters bared their souls to the reader right from the start and had me hooked.
Suggested writing exercise: Write a confession or denial from your character’s point of view. See if it would make a great beginning.
One day my mama caught me paintin’ pictures on the floor and the ceiling and the walls and the curtains and the door, and I heard my mama holler like I never did before …
This hat is not mine.
I just stole it.
Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty. But I was just such a girl, and my story is worth relating even if it did happen years ago. Be warned, however, this is no Story of a Bad Boy, no What Katy Did. If strong ideas and action offend you, read no more.
I didn’t do it.
I am innocent.
I know convicts say that when they’re guilty, but I’m telling you the truth. At 3:05 today, I didn’t mean to push Amanda on her bike so hard that she sailed off the curb and fell splat on the road in the pickup line after school. Thank God Mrs. McCrory had just paid the garage to tune up her Honda. That van stops on a dime now (and hardly even came close to hitting Amanda).
I would never have been accused of stealing the koala if Vance Jessup hadn’t made me drop a human arm in the shark tank.
I only intended to help two children who were hungry and had no money for food. That’s an admirable goal for a sixth-grade girl, isn’t it? You can’t get in trouble for doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Right?
Wrong! I may have had noble intentions, but I still ended up causing a car crash, being abducted by a thug, and smuggling a scared cat on a city bus by sticking him inside my T-shirt, a maneuver I do not recommend unless you’re wearing a steel undershirt.
“We cut ourselves regularly. Not by accident, we do it purposely—and regularly—because physical pain is comforting, and because now it has become a habit. Like the drugs. These are, in fact, the two main things Katie and I have in common. They are how we met.” This was my diary entry on November fourth, 1985.
Simon Glass was easy to hate. I never knew exactly why, there was so much to pick from. I guess, really we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn’t realize it until the day we killed him.
Everybody has at least one ugly secret, and mine is as ugly as they come. I square dance. With my mother.
My name is Evangeline Bianca Logan, and I am a serial kisser.
Ripple by Mandy Hubbard
The first boy I ever loved, Steven Goode, was really into cars. He received a junky ’72 Chevelle for his sixteenth birthday and spent six months rebuilding it. Everyone in school knew about it because Steven worked on it during shop class, and half the guys at Cedar Cove helped him, wrenching and sanding and polishing until every piece was as good as new.
After it was complete, Steven cruised up and down the streets near the boardwalk, one arm hanging out the window, that adorable lopsided grin never leaving his face.
Then I killed him. I drowned him in the ocean just a few hundred yards from my own sweet-sixteen party.
Day One, 8:07 a.m.
I’m a traitor to my generation. Seriously. All we hear about these days is being strong women and standing up for ourselves, and now look what I’ve done. I should totally be one of those true life stories in Seventeen. “I Built My Life Around a Boy! And Now I Regret It!”
You have to understand: I’ve been madly, hopelessly, tragically in love with Garrett Delaney for two years now—ever since the fateful day when I looked up from my list of the Top Ten Couples of All Time and saw him sauntering into the local coffeehouse.
I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged.
I am a coward.
I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending. I spent the first twelve years of my life playing at the Battle of Stirling Bridge with my five big brothers–and even though I am a girl, they let me be William Wallace, who is supposed to one of our ancestors, because I did the most rousing battle speeches. God, I tried hard last week. My God, I tried. But now I know I am a coward…
Confession of my own: I never thought to start a book with a confession until I started this post. Halfway through, I took a break, and changed the beginning of a picture book I’d been revising for months to a quasi confession. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.
Next up: Start your story by stating a problem.