Next Wednesday, I'm packing my bags, hopping in my old jalopy (aka, my old, beat-up car -- Prayers that it doesn't break down would be appreciated!) And heading to beautiful Lake Tahoe. There, in a gorgeous cabin by the lake, I'll be co-teaching a writer's retreat with my good friend and fellow author Susanne Lakin! There are 8 attendees, along with some spouses hitching along for the ride.
Susanne and her husband used to run a bed and breakfast so they know how to make everyone comfortable and she's hired a chef to cook gourmet meals! I'm excited and it should be a lot of fun and I hope and pray I will be able to help these writers with their craft.
One of the things Susanne and I hope to discuss is how to grab a reader in the first ten pages. So often I read novels and manuscripts where I literally have to force myself to finish at least five chapters. If I'm not interested by then, I will put the book down. It may very well end up to be a fabulous novel, but for me, I simply don't have time to keep reading and find out. Let's face it, there are a ton of other books out there to try.
I believe this is just a reflection of our busy, fast, mind-accelerating culture where most people can do ten things at once and hop from one thing to another without reflection. Just pick up an old classic like The Three Musketeers or one of Hemmingway's books, and I guarantee you'll wonder why they were so popular in the day. Well, not only are the authors fabulous, but honestly, people had a ton more patience 50 years to 100 years ago. Life was slower. No TV in every home and no TV at all until around the 1930s-40s. People actually talked to each other rather then stared at their iphones. Moms stayed home for the most part. Things of quality were made instead of mass produced, and there was no such thing as fast food. Plus people read. They read a lot.
But these days a writer has to grab a reader's attention sometimes as early as the first line or two or chances are something else will grab them away. How to do that in such limited space is the trick. I don't believe I've perfected it yet, but I have learned much over the years. I thought you'd like to read some of the first lines I'm going to use as examples. I have the authors' permission to post these. In fact, if the first line grabs you, why not go and order the book!
Cruising the sparkling aisles of Catalano's Supermarket, I lost my sanity buying frozen apple juice. Christa Allan WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS
The first time Jeremy heard God sing, we were in the old Ford, rocking back and forth with the wind, snow pounding at the window to get inside, where it wasn’t much better than out there.” THE SILENCE OF MURDER, Knopf/Random House, winner of 2012 Edgar Award Dandi Mackall
There once was a girl who’d been praying for a husband since the fourth grade. - MY STUBBORN HEART, Becky Wade
The moment his wife set a steaming bowl of chicken and dumplings on the dinner table, Al Richardson knew she was up to something.” – THE ROOM WITH THE SECOND-BEST VIEW, Virginia Smith
The nun hit me in the mouth and said, "Get out of my house." - TRY DARKNESS, James Scott Bell
Delia ran as hard as she could.
All the while, terror nipped at her heels.
Had Massuh set the hounds on her?
God will punish you!
Plantation voices screamed in her head, but she ran anyway.
Nothing in her hand. Nothing in her pockets. Nothing in her heart but fear. Nothing in her head but blind determination never to be beaten again. Never to be spit on. Never to have her hair torn out by a vicious young mistress. THEN CAME HOPE, Louise M. Gouge
If there was one thing Josie Miller knew, it was the smell of a rich man. And whoever had just walked into the diner smelled like Fort Knox. HER UNLIKELY FAMILY Missy Tippens
Even I would have killed for thee. DREAMSPELL, Tamara Leigh
Isabelle was neither slave nor free, with no past save the one she invented for herself during her daytime musings and nighttime dreams. — BELOVED CASTAWAY, Kathleen Y'Barbo
The cool metal of the Morgan silver dollar warmed as it rolled over Gabe’s knuckles and between his fingers. One thing he’d learned in the last nine years was how to read people, and the cocky cowpoke at the bar looked ripe for the picking. GABRIEL'S ATONEMENT, Vickie McDonough
Charity had killed her husband CHARITY'S CROSS, MaryLu Tyndall
So, what do you all think ?? Thoughts on first lines?