Ever have your life turn upside down in the span of a few days? And not upside down in the just-had-a-baby or just-bought-a-house or even the my-brother-joined-the-circus-and-just-got-arrested-for-being-a-little-too-close-to-the-zebras sort of way.
I mean the sort of way where you find out you’re not actually human.
The mysteriously missing staple remover should have been my first clue that my week was about to get much, much worse. My mom liked to say that trouble didn’t just come in threes—it began with something small, almost unnoticeable, and then snowballed from there unless you did something to stop it. In her case, that meant drawing a circle on the ground to keep out unwanted spirits.
I just wasn’t that superstitious. Living in the real world does that to you.
I cradled my phone between shoulder and ear, swiveling from side to side in my cubicle, a packet of papers in my hand. “It’s not happening, Owen,” I said into the phone. I scanned my desk again. Stacks of papers sat in labeled piles, my color-coded calendar was pinned to one wall, and my scissors, staplers, and pens lay lined up by my computer, perfectly parallel to one another.
A.G. Stewart says:
Loose Changeling is a tongue-in-cheek urban fantasy, where the fairies are assholes and the two hundred year-old men come with two hundred years’ worth of baggage.
Nicole always thought she was regular-issue human…until she turns her husband’s mistress into a mouse. The next day, Kailen, Fae-for-hire, shows up on her doorstep and drops this bomb: she’s a Changeling, a Fae raised among mortals. Oh, and did he mention her existence is illegal? Now she’s on the run from Fae factions who want to kill her, while dealing with others who believe she can save the world. And there’s the pesky matter of her soon-to-be ex, without whom she can’t seem to do any magic at all…
The beginning above was actually the second beginning I wrote; during revisions, I scrapped the original beginning and replaced it with this one.
I wanted to establish a couple things in the first paragraph. Nicole addresses the reader directly for brief periods throughout. I didn’t want that to come out of left field. Second, I wanted a bit of her perky, humorous attitude to shine through, to show her personality and help the reader connect with her.
The second paragraph was my hook.
The first two paragraphs for me were about establishing tone, while at the same time leading into some conflict and setting up the premise of the book.
The third paragraph was an elaboration on the promise of conflict in the second paragraph. The missing staple remover is a lead-in to something much larger. It also gave me the chance to bring in Nicole’s mother, and to foreshadow her relationship with her family, something that becomes important much later on in the book.
In the last paragraph, we dive into the story. I wanted to show Nicole at work—the place she has always felt most comfortable—while her life was in the process of being overturned.
Another thing I wanted to establish in the opening was to set some sort of anchoring point, something I could later refer back to. One of the things I think that makes a story feel complete is the sense of having come full circle at the end. As such, I like the ending to contain some echo of the beginning, and the beginning to hold something that can later be echoed. It reminds the reader how far the character has come and what has changed. It’s like having a story about a character climbing a mountain. They begin at a gnarled oak tree at the base, and then look back at that oak tree once they’ve reached the top.
In the last paragraph, Nicole is on the phone with her husband, who is asking to get a dog. Her answer, as seen here, is an adamant “no.”
As for the ending?
Let’s just say that many things in Nicole’s life have changed, and this may be one of them—though not in the way you might expect!
About the author:
Andrea G. Stewart lives in Northern California and gardens year-round in her tiny backyard, an activity that allows for copious daydreams of distant lands and planets. Her fiction has appeared in Writers of the Future Volume 29, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Galaxy’s Edge, and Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. When she’s not writing, working her day job, or chasing chickens out of her vegetables, she hangs around the house with her trusty dog, her loud cat, and her endlessly patient husband. You can find out more about her urban fantasy series at http://www.changelingwars.com
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