When I first created stories in my head and then on paper - a long time ago - I had no idea there were any "rules" for writing a novel that would sell.
Then I met other writers, I went to conferences, met agents and editors and joined critique groups...then I was introduced to the rules of writing. (Wow, what an eye opener for a newbie!)
One of the first things I did as a new writer was to go out and buy books on learning the craft of writing. Yup...we all do it (and I still do!)
Robert's Rules of Writing - 101 unconventional lessons every writer needs to learn was one of my first purchases. It's not a guide, and it doesn't really teach the craft of writing, what it does do is dispel a few myths and shares a few facts on writing for publication.
My tip today is Robert's Rule #42: Make an Entrance.
Or as most of us have heard countless times, "start in the right place!"
Such an easy thing to say, sometimes such a hard thing to do. It's hard to filter out the backstory. But to get the reader engaged from page one, you have to start with something that's going to make them want to read more - not a frolic through the woods picking daisies along the way and them WHAM the real action starts three pages in (or worse, in chapter two!)
With attention spans what they are today - how many people are going to stick with your meandering through perfectville long enough to get to the action? And you can forget an agent or editor making it that far either.
The truth is that while everyone wants peace and happiness in their own daily lives - they don't want to read about it. Peace and harmony don't make for good fiction!
And here's where your grand entrance comes in.
Start with a first line that captures attention or at least grabs the readers attention and makes them think.
And since I don't believe in telling and not showing (haha, a little writing humor...) I've got a few examples from my own work, both published and a work-in-progress:
A Fistful of Fate
William Montgomery stood in the shadowed doorway and watched the woman he’d waited two hundred years for kiss another man. But Reginald Merriweather wasn’t just any man. He was the man William blamed for Rebecca Beauregard’s death all those years ago, a crime Will had been accused of and paid for. With his own life.
Surrender to the Sheriff
Two simple words.
Written in the familiar handwriting of Grandma Rose on a single sheet of pale pink paper and delivered by mail exactly two years after her death.
Are those few lines enough to convince you to read on?
Have you considered your first few lines and if taken all alone, are they enough to grab the reader to at least get them to finish the page, to turn the page and hopefully keep going?
Have a great first line you'd like to share?