Monday, February 20, 2012

Beautiful Beginnings

by B.D. Tharp

Don’t you just love when the first page of a novel is so intriguing it grabs you and won’t let go? It doesn’t matter what genre either. I love to read books that I can’t put down. You know the ones I’m talking about…the ones you lose sleep over, the ones that replace your cooking time and force the hubby to eat cold sandwiches or cook himself.

Here’s some examples:

“Though she was careful not to show it, Madeline Singer did not fall apart when her youngest child left for college. In the Atlanta suburb where she lived, women wilted all around her. Tears fell. Antidepressants were prescribed.” ~Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax.

(Makes me glad I don’t live in her neighborhood. And I wonder why Madeline didn’t fall apart. Is she stronger than the rest of us mothers?)

“Until the drowned girl came to Laurel’s bedroom, ghosts had never walked in Victorianna. The houses were only twenty years old, with no accumulated history to put creaks in the hardwood floors or rattle in the pipes.” ~The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

(So why is there a ghost visiting Laurel? Who was the girl who drowned? Had she been “visited” by ghosts before? Why?)

“He was the only child in a house full of doubt. In bed each night, though it wasn’t dark – the floor lights his father had installed – and it wasn’t entirely private – the nursery monitor both parents refused to give up – he rehearsed the things he was certain of, using his fingers to number them. He was just a little boy, but he wouldn’t allow himself to sleep until he’d gone through both hands twice.” ~The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker

(Who is this lonely child? Why are his parents so protective? Did he have nightmares? Was he ill? What had happened to make the house full of doubt?)

See what I mean? Each one introduces the first character very quickly and some sort of tension or question that touches them. All of them have the reader wondering “why” and “what will happen next”. Most people enjoy finding the answers a little piece of the puzzle at a time. No data dumps, please. Let them discover crumbs that will lead them down the path to the truth in the story, or the lie, of course.

Make your beginning important, something that can’t be skimmed or skipped. “Hook” the reader and reel them into the story and they’ll be happy to follow your line to the end.

Write on, my friends.


Carol said...

I love to read books that make me hungry for more. In crafting a novel, I think feeding information a little at a time reels readers into your story. Great post!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, B. D.,

The hardest part of writing a novel is often getting that beginning right. I think it's smart to make the reader curious, wanting to know more.

bdtharp said...

Thank you for the comments, Carol & Jackie. I appreciate the input.