Yesterday, I took a little different route on my evening walk and passed by several entryways that have fascinated me for years...
Behind an arched iron gate, eighteen stairs climb under a trellis, up through a steep narrow passage, to a large house set back on the corner of Mason and Green.
Just half a block down, a weathered wood gate, imprinted with a crescent, separates the sidewalk from the fern-dappled stone wall behind.
Around the corner, a filigreed gate, wreathed in ivy, opens to a cluster of arts and crafts-style buildings set back from the street. There is something very evocative about these entrances—they always make me stop and wonder; ‘who lives here?’ It’s more of a question for my imagination because these particular entryways come with a sort of expectation.
When my girls were young, we used to play the game, ‘who lives here?’ on our neighborhood walks. A tall narrow door must the home of Mr. Giraffe, a tiny door (most likely hiding a water meter) must lead to the home of Miss City Mouse. We identified where the princess lived, and the witch, and the ogre, without ever seeing an actual resident pass through the door.
So this morning, I went out in the rain in search of more neighborhood entryways, because something niggled at the edge of my consciousness, a kind of hunch that there was an important lesson here for me. As I was walking, I thought about the writing task waiting for me when I got home—trying to figure out the opening to the historical YA I’m currently revising. Which got me thinking about how the opening to a story is like an entryway to a house and how different entryways set up different expectations, make different promises. I know this—that a writer makes a promise to the reader in the beginning of a story, but thinking about it in terms of architecture, in terms of kinds of doorways and entryways and gates and how they appeal to my imagination, gave me a visual that made it feel more clear.
As I sit down to work on the new opening to my story, the first question I’m asking myself is, ‘who lives here?’ What kind of story does my opening promise or rather, what kind of entryway does this story need?
Take Good Care,