I rewrote the beginning of Shaper so that the first two hundred words are snappier, have less drama but more action, and hopefully get to the catalyst event quicker. How sad is it that this feels like a major accomplishment?
Forget writer’s block, artist’s block was a bitch. Zeva Couran shut the door of her house and studio, locked the deadbolt with her key, and took a deep breath. She’d spent the past hour and a half staring at the clay and feeling like she was suffocating. Maybe a walk would get the creative juices flowing…or release some frustration. The sun set late in an Illinois June, and the neighborhood she lived in was down at the heels but not truly dangerous.
The dog at the yellow house down the street bayed. As if in response, a crow cawed from the hickory tree in front of her house. Zeva jumped, then laughed at herself. Pocketing her keys, she walked west on the sidewalk; after a block her stride lengthened as her muscles stretched. The air was sultry without being uncomfortable, and she could see stars beginning to struggle out past the street lights.
Four blocks and two sets of train tracks later, there were fewer street lights, and half of those were burnt out or flickering on and off in drunken rhythms. A formless fear seemed to creep at her through the cracked pavement.
Yes, that’s the entirety of my submission to the contest, 194 words in total. I understand the theory that the first 200 words should grab the reader and make them pay attention. I hope I win a critique.