Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Importance of the First Page and Opening Lines

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I’m mulling this over as I do some rewrites on my book. I read that the first page is perhaps the most important one in the book. Of course, all of us want the reader to keep reading beyond that, but this shows how important the opening is. The first few sentences need to be intriguing enough to make the reader keep reading. I know from my own looking in the bookstore, when I browse books at random, that if I’m not interested by the time I finish the first page, I’m likely to put the book down.

This led me to do some research on opening lines and/or paragraphs. For novels, action always gets my attention as well as a captivating problem via dialogue. I decided to use this approach for my current WIP, a mystery novel. I don’t think there are really any rules here, except to have something interesting or thought provoking to entice the reader to keep going. As I have learned, there is plenty of time for descriptions and character backgrounds.

This is my first mystery novel, so I’m using a different strategy. I usually write fantasy, but my two favorite genres for reading are fantasy and mystery/thrillers. I decided to read the beginnings of some mystery books in my library to see how they compare with the beginning of my book. After doing so and letting a couple of people read the first chapter of my WIP, I am happy with the beginning of my book.

I thought I’d share some beginning lines from the books of authors I like to read.

She came here to lay flowers at the place where the boy died and the girl was kidnapped.
..........Jeffery Deaver – The Empty Chair

Eight gray birds sitting in the dark............ Jeffery Deaver – The Maiden’s Grave

“Oh! Oh, Jesus, gross! Gross!”.................... Stephen King – Desperation

One June day in the mid-fifties Tom Pasmore, a ten-year-old boy with skin as golden as if he had been born with a good fourth-day suntan, jumped down from the milk cart and found himself in a part of Mill Walk he had never seen before...... Peter Straub – Mystery

He’d put in a fifteen-hour shift the night the call the came in....... Lisa Gardner – Alone

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