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A Good Opening Sentence

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I like the opening sentence of the steampunk novel DREADNOUGHT, by Cherie Priest.

"Down in the laundry room with the bloody-wet floors and the ceiling-high stacks of sheets, wraps, and blankets, Vinita Lynch was elbows-deep in a vat full of dirty pillowcases because she's promised -- she'd sworn on her mother's life -- that she'd find a certain windup pocket watch belonging to Private Hugh Morton before the device was plunged into a tub of simmering soapy water and surely destroyed for good."

There are several things to love about that sentence. There's the simple fact that it immerses you in an environment and in a story without any throat clearing.

There's the layered way in which it does so, starting with "where" (in the laundry room), proceeding to "who" (Vinita Lynch), then "what" (she's looking for a watch) and finally "when" (before it is destroyed). Each of the first three of those layers gets a good deal of specificity to it, enough to threaten to turn this into a run-on sentence, although the threat i evaded.

Further, there is a neat use of sibilance here. Sibilance, that is, alliteration involving the letter "s," enters the garden of this sentence only in discussing the element of time. Then we get the nature of the threat to the watch from "simmering soapy water...surely...." It helps bring the sentence to a dramatic close.

Good work, Ms Priest.


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