Friday Find: A Masterful Opening Paragraph

Setting is not my strong suit. And sensory detail is something I need to work on, too. As I was reminded when I read this opening paragraph to “Bravado,” one of the stories in the new William Trevor collection I referenced last week:

The leaves had begun to fall. All along Sunderland Avenue on the pavement beneath the beech trees there was a sprinkling, not yet the mushy inconvenience they would become when more fell and rain came, which inevitably would be soon. Not many people were about; it was after midnight, almost one o’clock, the widely spaced lampposts casting pools of misty yellow illumination. A man walked his dog in Blenning Road in the same blotchy lamplight, the first of autumn’s leaves gathering there also. An upstairs window opened in Verdun Crescent, hands clapped to dismiss a cat rooting in a flowerbed. A car turned into Sunderland Avenue, its headlights dimmed and then extinguished, its alarm set for the night with a flurry of flashing orange and red. The traffic of the city was a hum that only faintly reached these leisurely streets, the occasional distant shriek of a police siren or an ambulance more urgently disturbing their peace.

And with that beautiful writing, I leave you for the weekend. Have a good one!

5 thoughts on “Friday Find: A Masterful Opening Paragraph

  1. Felicity says:

    Erika, I’ve been enjoying this blog as well as your newsletter. Thanks for everything! This paragraph is beautiful – thanks for sharing.

  2. Pete says:

    Trevor is one of my favorite discoveries of recent years. That is indeed a lovely passage you cited.

  3. Erika D. says:

    Thank you both for the comments!

  4. Lisa R. says:

    I struggled a lot more with sensory details and scene setting, until I began researching sensory integration disorder to help one of my sons.

    Once I began reading about (and observing) all the little things in the environment that bother some people, but which most of us overlook (tags on clothing, combs with the teeth too far apart, creases in a cloth placemat), I began to notice many more sense details in my environment.
    One good book is Too Loud, Too Tight, Too Fast, Too Bright.

  5. Erika D. says:

    Thanks for sharing that, Lisa. I’ll look for that book.

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