Hooks from Cherie Colyer
Hook ‘em Quick
I love when a book grabs my attention on the first page and then just keeps getting better. If a novel has a great voice, interesting characters, or a rush of danger that has me on the edge of my seat, I’m all over it.
Because I want to be engaged right from the start, I strive to make my first page, first paragraph, first sentence one to remember. I want the reader to want to follow my characters to the end of the book. I’ve learned from trial and error (a.k.a. the hard way) that this means getting to know my characters better before I spend too much time on chapter one. It’s not that I go into a new project thinking I don’t know the cast. I know their likes, dislikes, mannerism, and what’s important to them. But as the story unfolds my characters are challenged, and I learn even more about them. Sometimes the story takes an unexpected detour or I have the all important AH HA moment. I love when this happens. I rush back to page one and jot down my thoughts, like I had done for Hold Tight. Through all my revisions the opening line remained the same:
I figured if I got caught with the little ironclad book, I’d ask him for forgiveness. Really, in the whole scheme of the universe, what was one little spell?
Embrace wasn’t so easy. I probably have a dozen different first chapters on my hard drive for that novel. Originally the story started with a scene that is now part of chapter six. I think it builds intrigue…
I watched in horror along with the rest of my history class. Kaylee continued to stare at her backpack, screaming loud piercing screams all of Essex County could hear, seeing something no one else did.
Unfortunately, throwing the reader into the middle of this scene didn’t work well. It left too many questions that couldn’t be answered without tons of back story. But I’m not a fan of pages and pages of back story, so I decided to start the book with the events that led to this scene. After many revisions, Embrace now opens when Madison discovers her life is about to change:
I should have cared what I wore, but I couldn’t quite get there. I didn’t see any point in dressing up just to get knocked down.
Since a book should start with some type of change, this really was a better place for Madison’s story to begin.
I wonder if authors like E.B. White and Herman Melville stressed over the first sentence of their books. Did Charlotte’s Web always begin with “Where’s daddy going with the ax?” Was “Call me Ishmeal” always the first sentence in Moby Dick?
Before I go, I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite first lines from some of my favorite authors.
I stiffened at the red and blue lights flashing behind me, because there was no way I could explain what was in the back of my truck. Jeanine Frost, Halfway to the Grave
I’d never given much thought to how I would die. Stephenie Meyer, Twilight
The Summer King knelt before her. “Is this what you freely choose, to risk winter’s chill?” Melissa Marr, Wicked Lovely
If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. Lemony Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events
Do you like to be hooked on page one? When you think of great opening scenes, what novel comes to mind?
I’d like to thank Charity for having me on her blog today.