Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Writers' Wednesday: Those Opening Pages...

The last few days, I've been thinking a lot about story openings. This is not really unusual, since I just finished judging entries for my local RWA chapter. We run a "Hook, Line and Sinker" contest which is a little different than most romance contests in that we ask for only the first 3 pages of your manuscript.

Yes, that's it. Just 3. So imagine all you have to do in those few pages to hook a judge/editor/agent/reader! Establish setting, character, conflict, and have a voice that's either enjoyable or engaging enough to make me want to read on. Oh, and better not have any mechanical problems either!

This was followed up by a Savvy Authors' newsletter I received that featured an article called "Packing in the WOW." What did they have to say? It was so good, I'm sharing the highlights with you:

Establish a viewpoint character, and indicate what sort of person he/she is
Establish a mood/tone
Reveal the setting
Reveal what type of book this is. What are the stakes?
Divulge an immediate conflict (Not necessarily THE conflict.)
Grab the reader with a hook

(If you want to read the whole thing, just click the link above. It's well worth it, I promise).

I have to say, I've written a lot of books, and gone over the openings for those books more times that I can count, but reminders like these are always valuable to have. If you don't catch a reader in the opening pages, no matter how good the rest of your story is, they may not give you the chance to share it.

So there it is, fellow writers. Hope these tips have given you food for thought - may your writing (and especially your opening pages) be powerful and engaging and hook every reader you want - and then some!

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