Sunday, April 29, 2012
Love vacant places, the stories they could tell. Fodder for Great Beginnings!
I've been asked to do a workshop at a local shop on May 19th. The subject will be Great Beginnings, as in how to make the first three chapters of your book a page turner. Of course, if you are a writer, you already know it's your job to keep the reader turning the pages. To do that, you must provide a "hook." You could have great characters all lined up and ready to perform, a plot that has the potential of keeping the reader up until 3 a.m., and a dynamite cover that promises a great book. You could have all these wonderful things in order, but if you fail to serenade the reader into your world in three paragraphs, or if the reader becomes incredibly bored with details and snoozes off in the middle of the second chapter, you've lost them, maybe forever.
First, in three words or less, describe what your book is about. Just three words. For example, my current WIP is Devil's Change, a story about greed, loss and forgiveness. The first sentence of any book is like a welcome mat, asking the reader to step inside, take a look around, and if they like what they see (read), they'll stay awhile and get comfy. And if you're real lucky, by the end of the book, they're sad to leave the characters behind.
In Devil's Change, my first sentence is, "Kate James was supposed to be in Italy right now - at this very moment." Of course, the reader will hopefully want to read the second sentence to find out exactly why Kate isn't in Italy. What happened? A bit of teasing to pique the reader's interest.
By the second paragraph the reader knows that Kate's husband died a year ago. And to heighten the intrique, Kate feels responsible for her husband's death. The reader will hopefully ask, "What happened to her husband. Why does Kate feel responsible for his death?
Third paraagraph, the reader finds out that Kate is an attorney and is being stalked by her late husband's best friend. The big question: "What happens next?
Although the three chapters present the central theme of your story, it's the characters you create who are the real "movers" and "shakers." Give them life with emotions, dialogue and universal tags that readers can identify with.
Any thoughts or discussions are always appreciated.