In our previous post Â¨Helpful book writing tipsÂ¨ we gave you a general overview on writing routines and some post writing suggestions â€¦ We hope some of the advice has been helpful and you have been persistent reaching your writing routine goals.
In this post, we would like to concentrate on a slightly more complex issue; how to fill out this first pages, engaging the reader to want to keep turning them. We all know, if itâ€™s browsing through a book online or at your favorite book stores, two factors play an important role for your book to be purchased. First an interesting cover catches the readerÂ´s attention and subsequently itâ€™s up to the first critical pages to showcase your writing skills and the stories potential.
You need to earn the trust of the reader, which means the introduction must be well written using strong vocabulary and impeccable grammar.
An opening line is crucial to captivate your readerâ€™s attention. A line that makes the reader want to find out moreâ€¦..An opening line could be an introduction of your main character, something shocking, a sentence that sets the tone of the storyâ€¦..
Read these examples and think about how they make you feel and what you think the book could be aboutâ€¦.
Â¨I am an invisible man.Â¨- Ralph Ellison
Â¨Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.Â¨- Charles Dickens
Â¨It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.Â¨ -Paul Auster
The Opening Paragraph
This should contain an introduction to a character(s), an introduction to the world or location the character is surrounded by and perhaps even provide a general introduction to the story plot.
Introduce a Character
In your opening paragraph make sure you invite the reader into your characters inner journey. Provide hints on the important and relevant facts that will underline the story of your book later on. Decide if you are going to introduce the main character first or save it for laterâ€¦â€¦Keep in mind each book typically has several types of characters. Â A protagonist, is the main character that the story follows and the antagonist, which is a character that conflicts against the protagonist. Having different and contrasting character personalities will make your story more compelling.
When describing this, be creative and pay attention to details; everything counts – time, place, architecture, circumstances and yes, even things like the weatherâ€¦ You do not have to describe all of this in the first 10 pages; but be prepared to give a little taste in proportion to the character you describe. As the story progresses more details will be revealed.
As for a good exercise to get a feel for a good opening line, character description or opening paragraph, we suggest you pick up some of your favorite books and reread the first 30 to 50 pages again. Underline the opening line and first paragraph, write down how it made you feel when reading it. Pay attention to how the main character has been introduced and the environment he/she finds himself and try to implement some of your notes and feelings to your own book. ItÂ´s not about copying somebodyâ€™s writing style, rather itâ€™s about learning and trying your best to create a unique balance between storytelling, detailed description of the surroundings, while developing your signature writing style.
If you like to learn more, we recommend you check out Â¨First 50 PagesÂ¨ by Jeff Gerke, This helpful guide walks you through the tasks your first 50 pages must accomplish in order to avoid leaving readers disoriented, frustrated, or bored.