How to write a novel, Chapter One

It was a dark and windy night. Tree branches scraped at the windows, and somewhere in the basement, a cat called out mournfully. The low growling of the family dog gave rise to my suspicions that a predator could be just outside the door….

I peeked outside from the window and put up my flashlight to the glass, so as not to be blinded by its reflection.  Outside on the concrete pad, I saw the rear ends of 5 raccoons waddling away from my fish pond.  It is not a large fish pond, and it does not have any large fish.  But it is a pond, all 16 square feet of it, and it does have goldfish.  Or at least it did.

Beside the edge of the pond I could make out the tails of 5 or 6 of my fish, the heads all bitten off.  They had been tossed willy-nilly about the rocks lining the tiny pond that Danny and I had dug when he was 8 years old.  He had spent all afternoon one fall day, digging and digging until he was waist deep into the earth.  He hadn’t wanted to stop until the digging was all finished.

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