Finding My Teen Narrator’s Voice: The Opening Lines of Swimming Alone

Nina Mansfield

The Sea Side Strangler Strikes Again!

Leave it to my mentally unstable, common sense impaired parents to ship me off to the only town in America with an active serial killer on the loose. I could so easily have the life squeezed out of me by some deranged killer. Now that would be the ultimate revenge. I mean, talk about a guilt trip—not that I’d be alive to benefit from it. And quite frankly, I’d prefer to die peacefully, in my sleep, at the age of one hundred and eight, thank you very much.

So begins my debut young adult mystery SWIMMING ALONE. I had a great deal of fun writing these opening lines, but it took me several years and many rewrites to get to them. Somewhere during my revision process, I realized I needed several things to happen. I needed to introduce my readers to The Sea Side Strangler, a serial killer who haunts my protagonist throughout the novel. I also needed to introduce the narrator, Cathy Banks. No, we don’t know her name yet. But we know she isn’t an adult, since her parents are shipping her off somewhere. And from the voice, I think most people would venture to guess that she is a teenager, and a snarky one at that.

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