Today we’ll be looking at The Leanin’ Dog by award-winning author K.A. Nuzum.
Let’s look at what K.A. does to hook us on the first page.
Just Like I Used To
I shoved my braids up into my woolen cap, pulled the itchy thing farther down over my ears, and crossed to the cabin window. I touched my nose to the small square of cold glass.
The snow had started up again; it fell thick and heavy like the velvet curtain at the theatre way down in town. I filled my eyes with the sight of it and then scrunched them shut and stretched my arms wide to both sides. Up and down real slow I moved them, like I used to, lying in the deep snow, pushing out perfect angel wings, feeling the cold and the wet seep through the backside of my britches and coat, feeling the snow spill down my neck. I remembered.
Why It Works
The opening is quiet and this intrigues me. She pulls on her cap, she crosses the room, she touches her nose to the glass. The “experts” tell us that we should skip over all the small steps that take a character from here to there and just get them there. So why does this author spend time with the small steps?
Because they are important. Somehow these small actions add up to something about the character, about her state of mind, her emotions. We need to know these things about her. The next section gives us even more clues as she fills her eyes with the falling snow and then closes them. She reaches out her arms and then:
up and down real slow I moved them, like I used to, lying in the deep snow, pushing out perfect angel wings…
and then the kicker last line: “I remembered.”
A good first page usually raises a question. And boy does this one: Why is she mimicking her snow angel, remembering it, but not going out to actually do something she clearly loves? She put her hat on. She’s right there. What is keeping her inside?
I am completely intrigued and will definitely turn this page and all of the rest.