Has so much emphasis been placed by readers and writers’ groups, publishers, reviewers, etc. on authors to have a spectacular opening page/chapters that the rest of the story gets left behind? What are your thoughts?
Ever since I can remember writers have been told the opening needs to grab the reader. It might be the opening line or maybe the first few pages, but you need to get the reader interested and hold that interest for the first few pages, so they’ll keep reading. It should be where there is a life changing event for the hero or heroine and needs to hold the readers interest, long enough so they fall in love with your hero or heroine, or they need to see how the plot plays out or maybe they want to read and learn a little more about the setting. This could be a death, a murder, an arrest, some inheriting a B&B, or maybe forced to meet an old lover. Do you have a favorite inciting incident as either a writer or reader?
Different writers use different techniques to grab their readers but if they can’t do it, chances are their book won’t be read, or maybe won’t even be bought. I’ve watched people in bookstores (before the corona virus hit). Different readers check out books in different ways. For some it’s the cover. For others it’s the back-cover blurb, but others open the book and start reading those first few pages. If it doesn’t grab them the book goes back on the rack.
How important do you think first lines and first pages are? Do they influence you? I’ve judged a lot of contests and many of those books only got read because I had to judge the whole book. If it had been a book I was reading by choice, I would have stopped after a few pages.
Here are a couple of first lines. What do you think, do you want to read the book?
Heart thundering with exertion, fifteen-year old Jane Killlian treaded water. Sunlight reflected off the lake’s glassy surface, blindingly bright. “See Jane Die” by Erica Spindler
The man behind the cluttered desk looked like the devil and Neil Dysart figured that was par for her course since she’d been going to hell for a year and a half anyway. “Fast Women” by Jennie Crusie
You’ve got to stop this.”
Her husband’s voice reached her slowly, as if from a great distance, even though she knew he was standing at the doorway to her daughter’s room. “Stalked” by Elizabeth Heiter