I recently read the first chapter of a friend’s book that she was uncertain about. I loved her characters and her phrasing, but the biggest problem I found was that for the first five pages, the main character was describing the characters and the place she was in – and that was it. I have a favorite author whose books have a lot of introspection. But the difference is that in her introspection, things either happened or have happened–or you have a sense that they will happen.
I also have favorite authors who start off with action right away – like Jennifer Estep does. Here’s the first line from Unraveled: Elemental Assassin Book #15:
It was the perfect night to kill someone.
How could you resist reading more after that line? She does go on to add two paragraphs of great description to set the scene – and then she goes back to the killing someone angle, which always goes well with her Elemental Assassin books. 🙂
Here’s the first line from Michelle Diener’s Dark Minds.
The change in mood onboard the runner slowly forced Imogen Peters to come back to herself. The small crew’s tension wound around her like a choking vine, tightening until she couldn’t ignore it anymore.
The foreshadowing gives the reader chills. After reading these two lines, the reader has to go on to see what happens next.
Mary Hughes writes books with wickedly fun humor, romance, and paranormal/fantasy/suspense. In Cinn Wikked: April Fools for Love eBook, the story actually starts in the Dedication, then continues on to the Prologue, then to Chapter One. Here’s a sample:
Cinn Wikkid was beating her head against advanced tax accounting when when she heard her stepsister’s tread on the attic stairs. She quickly hid her textbook–
It’s just so fun and witty, and the reader definitely knows something is happening.
Dale Mayer’s books have a lot of action and plot – and sometimes humor. She writes in many genres, and her readers know that something is always going to happen soon. Here’s the first lines from Celeste (Glory Book 3):
Celeste Chandler couldn’t go much farther. Her leg was throbbing with pain. She should have returned before this, not wait until the last minute.
Already the action has started and the heroine is in trouble.
My latest book, Christmas Redemption (Love & Murder Book 5), starts off with a radio announcer saying:
“Warning to any Michiganders who might be listening. First, you had to watch out for the water. Now, you have to watch out for a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. Yep. You heard me right. They change their hair color. They change their cars. They change their names. And you know what else they do, peeps?”
The next three paragraphs are in the heroine’s thoughts as she and the hero drive to her family’s bed and breakfast. Every sentence tells the reader who they are and of danger they’ve previously overcome. At the end of the heroine’s introspection, the heroine thinks:
This Christmas would be tamer than the last, she was sure, and glad for it.
Of course, by this time, the reader guesses it won’t be tamer. And the reader will be right! She’ll also know this will be a Christmas-themed book and a romantic suspense with a bit of mystery.
All these books have one thing in common. Action pretty soon in the book, and the reader knows very soon that something will be going to happen. If the reader wants to find out what that is, she/he has to keep turning the pages.
What author can you think of who pulls you in early in the book?