Congratulations to Jill James! She’s won a copy of Megan Hart’s first women’s fiction from MIRA, Precious and Fragile Things.
A hearty and magical welcome to our guest muse today, Natalie J. Damschroder. Natalie is clever and talented and generous–someone I’m thrilled to call a friend (because, honestly, I wouldn’t want to have to match wits with her in any contest!) and pleased to introduce to our readers! Take it away, Natalie…
You’ve beaten my giant, which means you’re exceptionally strong, so you could’ve put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you’ve also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
This scene came to mind recently when I was at work. I was itching to get my task done and get back to the book I was reading so I could find out what happened. I was considering the rating I’d give it on Goodreads. While it held my interest, it wasn’t this compelling all the way through. But how I felt at the end was what would drive my rating and, more importantly, whether or not I add more books by this author to my wish list.
What part of the book is the most important part?
In the book I’m reading, I’m at 84%. The tension is high, my breath bated as I prepare to find out the answers to all the hinted-at or unknown events and issues. This is vital for a writer! We, the readers, have to feel like disaster is about to explode in a big mess, either emotional or physical. Then it has to actually happen. Then the hero and heroine have to prevail in a spectacular way that matches the level of exploded disaster, and wrap it all up with something really satisfying. Tall order, but if you do it right, it guarantees that I’ll be getting the next book, or maybe the entire backlist, and e-readers make that impulse buy oh-so-easy.
So clearly, the end of the book is the most important part.
But wait a minute! We all know about hooking the reader. No matter how good the end of the last book was, it ceases to matter as soon as we start the next book. It can’t be boring or trite. The heroine can’t be too bitchy or weak, and the hero can’t be too obnoxious and overbearing. There has to be a perfect balance of setting and action and deep POV. If the reader doesn’t like the opening, they’ll put the book back on the shelf and not buy it. If it’s killeróif the author draws the reader right into the head of the protagonist, and sets up the action just right, and promises something exciting (including emotionally), they’ll not only buy it, they’ll go sit in the coffee shop and start reading immediately.
So clearly, the opening of the book is the most important part.
Am I finished? Not remotely! Say your opening is killer, but the first major turning point is only meh. Or never comes at all. Your characters might stagnate halfway through the book, or you’ve added tedious placeholder scenes to make the book long enough. Perhaps the conflict doesn’t carry through, or is so complex it confuses the reader. Maybe the tension isn’t building well. Doesn’t matter whatófor some reason, the reader has put down the book and isn’t thinking about it. They’re not driven to pick it up again, or to sit and finish it in one go. You’ve lost them, so they’ll never get to that explosive ending or the killer opening of the next book.
So clearly, the middle of the book is the most important part.
Here’s where I switch the goblets, drink, and burst into maniacally arrogant laughter before keeling over dead. But you’ve developed an immunity to iocane powder by writing a killer opening, a compelling middle, and an explosively satisfying ending, ensuring your ongoing success. 🙂
What do you think is the most important part of a book? Commenters are entered into a drawing for a copy of Megan Hart’s first women’s fiction from MIRA, Precious and Fragile Things.
Hopefully, Natalie applied Vizzini’s logic to her latest romantic adventure, Fight or Flight, available now from Carina Press, via Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and wherever e-books are sold. It’s also available in audiobook! Her next book in this genre, Behind the Scenes, will be out late this year.
You can learn more about Natalie and her books at her website, eHarlequin, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook. She blogs with three other opinionated writers at The Gabwagon, and with four other obsessed passionate Supernatural fans at Supernatural Sisters.