I have written and rewritten and rewritten (and am still rewriting!) this beginning literally tens of times. I switched it to a snappier, more eye-catching first sentence (then back to the normal one); I switched it from third to first person; I started the story by foreshadowing a theme (then deleted all of that); AND I constantly question whether I need to start the story later (like… a month later into the plot). But here’s how it is now, which is remarkably like the FIRST DRAFT I EVER WROTE FOR THIS STORY!
Revisions are frustrating.
What am I doing here?
I check the clock on my computer monitor: 10:16. Too late to still be at work.
I lean back in my ergonomically-approved office chair and rub my eyes, run my hands through my already messy brown hair.
Papers lay like scattered leaves, dead on my desk. The obituary can wait until morning, I tell myself, and I shut down my computer. I stretch, letting the aches of the day fall from my bones, and I half-heartedly straighten my notes.
My cell phone rings, cutting through the wintery stillness in the office building. It’s Jake, my best friend from childhood and old college roommate.
“Dude,” he says. It might as well be my name: Dude. “Where are you? Come to Rusty’s Pipe tonight.”
“Dude, I’m at work,” I say.
There’s a pause. “Gray, for someone who hates his job, you sure do find interesting ways to spend your Friday nights.”
“I don’t –“ I lower my voice, even though I haven’t heard a sound from the surrounding cubicles in hours. “I don’t hate my job.”
oh… I don’t know about the present tense. No! It works! I have to keep the entire story in mind. It works! But I’m deleting the “ergonomically-approved” description. There’s a less boring way to describe the boring.
I just read a really good book that was written by a female, with a main character who is male, written in first-person and present tense. It made me feel better. That story was Split by Swati Avasthi, by the way. Incredibly well-written and well-developed. Characters are multidimensional, multi-layered. Really good story.