I began my novel in progress with the following paragraph:
“I left for work wondering how soon my job would be eliminated and when it happened, for only a fool could not see it coming, I was also wondering how I would earn a living, for my occupation, such as it is, would no longer be needed. When I went home earlier than expected because of the murder, I had the same job, sort of, but was still wondering, this time wondering if I was up to the challenge. I also wondered who killed Hans Bachmann. I wonder a lot. It is an occupational hazard of writers.”
There is nothing terribly bad about the opening paragraph. You have the hero thinking he might be fired, then drops in the fact about going home early because of a murder. Who got murdered? What happened? But the problem is too many words. In editing, cut out the unnecessary and get to the point.
The revised paragraph is:
“I went to work worried I would be fired, was elated when told I still had my job, but had a chill run down my spine when I went to my office and saw a dead man sitting in my chair, his head on my desk in a pool of blood. And this on the day I had to go to Clara Bow’s birthday party. Some days just don’t fit in a normal life.”
I cut 97 words. It now reads with a smoother flow. It is also more active. The character goes from worried to elated to a chill down his spine in one sentence. You also get a visual of the murder scene. Victim sitting in the chair, head down, pool of blood. A sense of tone is more clear with the sentence about the murder happening on the day he is going to Clara Bow’s birthday and yes, this is not a normal day. I think this guy also has a quirky sense of humor.
I edited the paragraph a few months after writing it. I liked the first version, but writers tend to love what they write. They need to wait, forget what they wrote and revisit. Looking at it with fresh eyes it was easy for me to see a change was needed.
I hope you agree with the rewrite. A writer has to be critical of what he writes, not falling in love with a blind eye. That is the reason to put it aside and wait for fresh eyes. This is the key to editing.
Though the story is unfinished, Amazon has my finished e-books here: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38