Posted by: Karen Cogan | 28/03/2015

A Writing Tip

Tips for A Writer

Have you ever read a book you couldn’t put down?  “Something like: Tom clung to the edge of the cliff. His knuckles were turning white. Below him was a thousand foot drop.”  AHHH!  Does he fall?  It makes you want to know.  As writers, we are told to use hooks, not only at the end of chapters, but to begin our stories.

Beginnings that intrigue me are those that start with something out of the ordinary, something unexpected.  This should cause the reader to question what the character did and what will happen next.  For example: “Laura always wanted to be like other people.  When she sat alone in a coffee shop, she studied them to see how they spoke, their facial expressions and their body language.  She wanted to have friends, go to parties and fit in.  She wanted to be empathetic and affable.  So why, on her living room rug, was there a dead body only inches from her feet?

This makes me wonder a lot about Laura.  Was she responsible for the death?  Is she a psychopath?  Or is she innocent?  Perhaps someone else killed the victim.

In a romance, I want the hero or heroine to begin in danger, or at least an impossible dilemma.  Here are two examples I offer from personal experience.  My novel, FRAGILE DREAMS begins:  “Nate’s left side ignited in an explosion of white hot pain.  He felt his legs go out from beneath him as he sank to the ground, stunned.  For a moment, he could not grasp that he gunshot he’d heard had produced his agony.  He could not understand the violence that had suddenly shattered his peaceful afternoon.”

From an ARTFUL DECEPTION:  “Lady Katherine held her slender shoulders rigid.   Her feet pressed into the floor of the coach as though she could stop it by the sheer effort of her will. She would stop it if she could and escape into the forest that lined the road.”

I hope these are examples of beginnings that would make the reader want to read on.  We have passed the days of Dickens when the public would accept longs passages of narration and description.  Our readers expect a beginning that promises danger and excitement.  This is not always easy to accomplish, but worth the effort when it works.

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