Miriam Wakerly Revisits the Sixties – Secrets in Appley Green

 My guest today is the lovely Miriam Wakerly. You may remember her from other posts when we introduced her novels “Shades of Appley Green,” “Gypsies Stop tHere,” and “No Gypsies Served.” I’m happy to host Miriam again to tell you of her latest novel. portraitmw

Anneli has been sharing writerly tips for a while now over on the LoveaHappyEnding Lifestyle magazine. http://www.loveahappyending.com/category/writing-advice/ It’s wonderful how authors help each other. Thank you so much for having me on your website, Anneli.

I have started running writing workshops with the rather stupendous idea of covering all aspects of novel writing in three hours! The workshop preparation and process has rekindled in me a love of writing and all the challenges it poses. It is rather like learning to drive at first, with so many different things to think of, especially in those all-important opening lines, pages, and chapters.  Setting the scene, developing a style, introducing and growing  characters the reader will care about, planting credible hooks to keep the reader turning the pages, with the overall structure and way forward always there in the back of your mind – it’s daunting sometimes but wonderful when it all comes together. The best bit is when your characters begin to think and act for themselves in a given situation. Then you know they have become ‘real’, yet still creatures of fiction.

Going back to my teenage years, riding on a wave of nostalgia, made me think hard about the Sixties. How different 1960 was from the years that followed!  The attitudes and general way of life particularly fascinated me and made me ponder on how much those of us who can remember the Sixties have changed since then – apart from simply growing older. Having said that, human emotion pretty much endures – the pain of injustice, rejection, and lost love, the double-edged joy of being in love, the happiness friendship brings, the spirits uplifted on a sunny day in a lovely garden.

The setting is an English village, the same place as my first three novels. If you’ve read any of my other books, Gypsies Stop tHere, No Gypsies Served and Shades of Appley Green, you will recognise some of the older characters – as they were over fifty years ago!

Three naïve, but very different, Appley Green schoolgirls pledge to stick together forever, but when one of them gets pregnant, this pushes their promise to the edge.

A young girl in need of love is vulnerable to the charms of an older man with heartbreaking consequences.

These are Great Britain’s Sixties, an exciting era, gathering pace, then in full swing as social change sweeps aside past attitudes, laws, fashion, and culture. Youth is finding a voice as parents struggle to adjust.  Its characters span the full social spectrum and take us beyond Appley Green to Brighton, Margate, London, Vienna, and Paris.

Miriam Wakerly’s  Appley Green village stories all standalone and can be read in any order, but they are connected. This one can serve as a prequel to all three, especially Shades of Appley Green.

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I hope you enjoy Secrets in Appley Green – A 1960s village novel. The Kindle version is available on amazon outlets, paperback to follow within a few weeks.

Links: 

Blog: Miriam’s Ramblings 

Miriam’s books in the UK:  Amazon.co.uk  

Miriam’s books in the US and Canada: Amazon.com 

Llm link to articles about English village life:  

 

 

 

 

Knowing Your Characters

How well do you know the characters you build your novel around? Do you know them well enough that you find yourself thinking about them when you’re not writing? Without realizing that you’ve slipped into their character, do you ever find yourself talking the way they talk? Do you find yourself using their pet expressions? If you do, then chances are that your readers will also be thinking about these characters when they read your book. But how do we achieve this level of intimacy with our fictional characters?

When I first started writing, I sometimes caught myself assigning the wrong physical traits on my characters. Maybe the man had blue eyes at the beginning of the story and brown eyes later in the book. Or maybe he was 5′ 11″ at first and a week later grew to be 6′ 2″. This kind of mistake can be  a serious  threat to your reputation as an author, especially if you have a wide, soon to be dwindling, readership. Luckily, I caught these mistakes in time and I was determined to avoid them in the future.

The discrepancy in physical appearance is not the only problem we need to be aware of. We also need to take care with the actions we have our characters performing. We need to know our character’s personality well enough to determine if they would do the thing we have them doing, or speak the way we have them speaking.

Before you write, it’s a good idea to do a character analysis for your main actors. It need not be fancy or indepth. A few notes will do, but if you have them written down you can refer to them any time you are unsure of what attributes you gave your hero back in chapter two.

Charts and lists are available from a variety of sources. Simply google character analysis  or character profiles for writers and you’ll find them.

I’d like to list some of the basic points of information you should have written down somewhere (be it on post-it notes or on a computer file or on paper) before you begin your novel.

  • Name, gender, age and physical appearance are the first, most obvious, ones.
  • How the character feels about his/her appearance. (This can have a profound effect on his/her behaviour in the book.)
  • Family, friends, education, and domiciles
  • Marital status, job experience, relationships within the family and with co-workers.
  • Sex, religion, political and moral beliefs
  • General health, intelligence
  • Manner of speaking, voice, dialect, slang, accent
  • What is he/she proud/ashamed of?
  • The character’s goals in the story, and what stands in his/her way

Once you have made notes on this character, you will feel as if you know them in real life and this will most likely transfer to your readers’ perception of that character too.

My French-Canadian character, Monique, in The Wind Weeps, had a habit of conflating two English expressions when she was trying to learn that language. She had heard, “Sure thing,” and “For sure,” but in her case it came out “For sure t’ing.” While I was writing this novel, Monique was in my head a lot. I felt as if I really knew her.

Was I glad I had done a character analysis of her before writing?

For sure t’ing!

Did I get to like her a lot as I wrote this book?

For sure t’ing!

Will it help you to write your novel if you do a character analysis first?

For sure t’ing!

Will readers internalize these characters more readily and love to read about them?

For sure t’ing!

Fun and Sassy Sheryl Browne

UK author Sheryl Browne has done it again. She’s written another engaging romantic page turner.

Here’s Sheryl to tell introduce her newest release to us.

Sheryl and dogs 2

The Rest of My Life – When is it time to stop running?

Recommended to Choc Lit by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer my contemporary romance novel, The Rest of My Life, is here!!

Fun, sassy and a tad naughty in places …

Tweet - Mocha

Are we tempted?

Adam

Just a little bit?

The Rest of My Life

 “You can’t run away from commitment forever … “

Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…

Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.

And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?

Fancy a peek at the video?

https://youtu.be/7p319itbVKg

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Choc Lit

Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, bestselling author Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for Innovation in Romantic Fiction, Sheryl has seven books published.

Sheryl’s new contemporary romance novel was recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer.

THE REST OF MY Life comes to you from award winning Choc Lit.

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Loveahappyending Lifestyle

Choc Lit | Romantic Novelists’ Association

 

Copy-editing Fun

Here is a fun exercise for writers. I’ve taken part of a travel adventure and purposely put many mistakes into it. How many can you find? Count them and tell us in the comment section. I haven’t included the kind of mistakes that involve number of spaces between words or sentences, or repeated words. This exercise is very basic, showing just a sample of the most obvious mistakes that a copy-editor will find for you. Believe me, in the world of “pre-publishing,” many manuscripts look worse than the sample of writing below, but a copy-editor can save you from disgracing yourself.

So, are you  “up” for the challenge? Why not give it a try?

Travel from Italy to Greece

An alternative to driving the long way around from Italy to Greece to go by car ferry. On the day we want to make the trip many years ago, third class tickets for the “Mediterranean sea,” were sold out, so we had to buy First Class. After waiting in line for hours, our VW van was crammed a board, into one of the last available spaces, a cubby hole with a low cieling and steal walls on 3 sides.

Three days later, when it was time to unload, this cubacle became an oven. Tempatures soaring over 100 F. and the Chaos of impatient passengers and disorganized unloading practices had us nearly suffocating on the engine exhaust of cars started way too soon in the closed in car deck. (In those days in Italy, there was no safety regulations such as we have in Canada now-a-days.) An over-eager passenger in dire need of driving lessons backed up his trailor at a wierd angel behind us, making it impossible for us to move. Trapped in the scorching cubacle I felt like a chicken in a slow cooker.

If you have writing that needs the expert eye of a copy-editor, please visit my webpage anneli-purchase.com and click on the copy-editing page. I can do a free sample of editing for you.

The Lovely Blog Hop

I’ve been challenged by Darlene Jones, author of five novels (www.emandyves.com), to join the Lovely Blog Hop to share some of the things that have helped shape my writing and my life. Thank you, Darlene.

The blog rules include telling a bit about myself and my interests. So here I am, Anneli Purchase, sharing my trivia with you.

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First Fond Memory

In the summer, going to the playground was always fun. My mother sat nearby on a bench while my brother and I played on the swings. I haven’t been able to figure out what it means that I was always the one who stood protectively (and in charge) on the swings to pump them ever higher with my brother tucked safely between my feet. Either I love my brother very much, or I’ve been a control freak since the age of five, or both.

snowball fight 1952 [2]

In the winter, my dad was the one who pulled the sled and had mock snowball fights with my brother and me. My mother was usually at home making sure the hot chocolate was ready for us on our return.

Books

I got in trouble for reading at school. Nancy Drew mysteries were such page turners. I had to learn that even though the object was to teach us to read, the teacher needed my attention on her at times, and I had to abandon Nancy for a while. Later when I became a teacher, I used to wish I had students who would rather read than anything else in school.

Libraries

Our small town had very little to offer in the way of library books or guidance for children who needed to be steered towards something more challenging but just as stimulating as Nancy Drew mysteries. A huge gap in reading followed those early elementary school years. I was a young adult before a bookish friend got me on track again. That’s a story for another time and place.

Passion

Anything outdoors was my passion. Learning about the animals, camping, fishing, exploring, gardening, mushroom picking, birdwatching; that was a perfect way to spend my time. But wait, that’s not all. I had indoor passions too. I loved painting, making music, creating artsy things, writing, making up stories and plays, and playing sports — basketball, tennis, badminton, volleyball, even scrub baseball in the vacant lot across the street.

Learning

My first teaching job was in one of the last one-room schoolhouses on Vancouver Island. I had no teacher in a classroom next door to go to for help, so I had to learn fast in order to survive. My big passions while teaching were to make sure every child learned to read (because if all else failed, a person could catch up on knowledge later on if they could read), and to show the students that each one of them had an artist hidden in them. They were often surprised at their results and always proud of their artwork. Just a little guidance, and magical things can happen.

For myself, learning has never stopped. If I don’t know something, it bugs me and bugs me until I find out. I’ve always been like that, and while it drives some of my family crazy, it works for me and I love learning something new every day.

Writing

Writing is an addiction. I’m not happy if I’m not writing. All I need is paper, pen, and some quiet time. A computer is better, but paper and pen still work for me, too. I’ve written three novels and am working on my fourth. I can’t see myself stopping any time soon.

If you want to know more, check out my web page and my other blogsite.

www.anneli-purchase.com

http:wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com

And now I nominate Barbara Beacham.  https://salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com/

Work in Progress

Renee

Renee Rivers

Renee Rivers has tagged me to participate in a “Work in Progress” blog tour. Renee is almost finished writing a book that I can’t wait to read. Find out about it by clicking her link here: unpacked writer.com

The “Work in Progress” blog tour rules:

Link back to the post of the person who nominated you.

Write a little about and give the first sentence of the first three chapters of your current work-in-progress. Some writers give more than the first sentences, and I like that idea, too.

Nominate some other writers to do the same.

My nominations are:

Patricia Sands at http://patriciasandsauthor.com/

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Patricia Sands

Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else.  An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere … particularly the south of France, for her annual visit.

As of January, 2015, along with being a proud indie author, Patricia is also delighted to be under contract with Lake Union Publishing for her Love In Provence series. This is the women’s fiction arm of Amazon Publishing.

With a focus on travel, women’s issues and ageing, her stories celebrate the feminine spirit and the power of friendship. Encouraging women of all ages to stare down the fear factor and embrace change, Patricia has heard from readers (men too!) ages 20 to 83.

Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010 and the audiobook, read by Patricia, will be ready by December 2014.

*****

Darlene Jones at https://emandyves.wordpress.com

Darlene - beach [1][2]

Darlene Jones

Darlene says:

A long time ago, I lived in Mali. Every single day, I wished I could wave a magic wand to relieve the heart-wrenching poverty. The story line of my books reflects my desire to wave that wand and make the world a better place. If only wishes could come true. And of course, every novel needs its love story, so along with the sci-fi magic, I’ve added the requisite romance.
I’ve always believed we can’t be the only beings existing in the vastness of the universe. There must be others “out there somewhere” and I brought some of them along for the ride.The setting stays, for the most part, within the realities of our world, but I’ve found that I love the magic the sci-fi element of other beings can bring to the story.

*****

I was thrilled that these accomplished writers have agreed to take part in this work-in-progress blog tour. Please stop by their sites and get to know them and their work.

*****

Anneli[7]

Anneli Purchase

And then there’s me. I live on Vancouver Island, where I write and work as a freelance copy-editor. I have always loved animals and the outdoors, so much of my writing reflects that. I have three novels published and am working on my fourth.

My “work in progress” is just that — in progress. I have finished the first draft but still have a lot of work to do before it’s ready for publishing. In a way, it feels wrong even to “publish” anything about it on my blog, but as long as you understand that there are still big changes underway, I don’t mind sharing some of my first efforts.

The story is a sequel to The Wind Weeps. It is meant to continue that novel and resolve some issues that were purposely left unfinished.

My main character, Andrea, is no longer as naive as she was, and is making better decisions in the sequel. She is still trying to avoid being found by the husband she ran away from. It is difficult to tell much about the sequel without spoiling the first book, so suffice it to say that the sequel continues where the first book stopped, and resolves the situations that developed in both novels.

Here are short samples of “not polished” beginnings of the first three chapters of my WIP.

Chapter 1

Setting – St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver.

“Nurse!” I screamed. “Nurse, come back!”

Robert’s smile vanished. He advanced and tossed the three orchids onto the foot of my bed.

I twisted around grasping for the call button. “Get away from me!” I hit the button frantically.

Robert lunged for the cord. “No, Andrea. Don’t!” He ripped the cord away from me. I pulled my fist back to punch him, but he was quick and caught my wrist in an iron grip. His eyes narrowed into slits.

Chapter 2

Setting – St. Paul’s Hospital

The next day I woke up feeling groggy, struggling to make my brain work, struggling to remember where I was and why I was in bed with sunlight streaming in through the window. Why wasn’t I up and … doing what? Where was I anyway? Flashes of memory formed in my scrambled mind—hospital. Why was I here anyway? I was running away…. Robert—Robert! I lifted my head off the pillow with a cry.

My eyes quickly took inventory of the room. Oh my God! There he was! Behind the curtain, I could see his legs sprawling out from a chair in the corner near the foot of my bed. He must have heard me. He was getting up. I opened my mouth to call for the nurse again when I heard him say, “Sh-sh-sh, Andrea. It’s okay. You’re safe.”

Chapter 3

Setting – In the parking lot outside the hospital

I must have dozed off for a few minutes. Stupid to fall asleep. I might have missed them. I’d give it five more minutes and if they didn’t show I’d go back in and look around.

Hah! There they were, him all huddled over her in case she fell. What a namby-pamby. He looked stupider than usual without his glasses. I took care of those all right. Bloody four-eyed freak. Can’t figure what she sees in him. Ah, piss on it. What did I care? Let him look after her until her leg got better. She wasn’t much use to me until she had two working legs anyway. I could always grab her in a few weeks when she was stronger and could do a good day’s work around the place. Building a cabin was going to be a bit of a grunt and she could damn well help me. After all, it was her fault the cabin burned down. She shouldn’t have made me so mad. And anyway, she was my wife.

*****

While I’m working on the sequel, you may want to read the first book. Click on the link to order The Wind Weeps.

The Wind Weeps

To find out more about The Wind Weeps, click on:  amazon.com

And They Lived Happily Ever After

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The setting of my next novel.

Everyone loves a happy ending. At the end of a novel we want to read the equivalent of “And they lived happily ever after.” But is that realistic? Do we even want “realistic”? Maybe that happy ending is too predictable.

After months of agonizing over writer’s block, I have at last reached the end of the first draft of my next novel.

In writing the ending, I was conscious of trying to follow the storyline in a logical manner, and still craft an ending that the reader will find as satisfying as a perfect dessert after a  tasty meal at a five-star restaurant.

How can the author prepare such a gourmet dessert?

1. The events that wrap up the plot must be believable.

2. These events must follow in a logical sequence, while keeping the reader wondering if they will indeed happen.

3. The characters involved should have their character flaws redeemed and resolved by this time.

4. Our hero should be successful in his endeavours.

5. The villain should finally get what’s coming to him.

These steps would allow for a happy ending.

Of course, in real life, happy endings can often have twists. But do we want those twists to happen in a novel?

What do you think? Do you want that dessert to be perfect, or do you want some degree of reality weighing in?

Reality comes in many varieties. The dessert might be too sweet, too bland, too rich, or too ordinary. There might be a fly in it, or worse yet, a hair.

Think about some endings you have read. How do they make you feel? What kind of endings do you like?

Writing Partners

My guest today is Joanna Gawn, to tell us about herself and her writing partner Ron Dickerson.

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What happens when a series of synchronicities introduces a wannabe novelist to ‘subtle energies’ and a re-emergence of her highly sensitive self?

What happens when she meets a man whom she feels she’s known for decades (or even centuries?) and who, over time, becomes her best friend? One who offers her a new way of looking at life and relationships?

What happens when she uncovers an inspirational focus for her writing, and her new best friend gives her a little push into making her dream of writing a novel come true?

She writes her first novel, of course. And then her second. In partnership with said best friend, naturally. 🙂

And that’s a true and auto-biographical story, I swear. 🙂

From nowhere (or so it seemed) my husband’s long-term friend, Ron, was encouraging me to write – a fantasy tale incorporating the ‘natural magic’ I had begun to see and feel. As a natural healer himself, what I experience with my ‘attuned senses’ is quite understandable to him.

From nowhere, we began writing a book together. A novel about synchronicity, natural magic, stone circles, positive energies, unconditional love.  A story about leading from the heart-space, the inner voice, and doing the right thing. A book about working with light and energy and bringing positive change to the worlds (yes, more than one; Cordello is a parallel world).

So, now that we’ve been an official business partnership for nearly four years, with two novels and two short story ebooks published, how does the writing-and-editing aspect of our partnership work?

First of all, I sit and tune in, and start to write. Maybe 1000 words in a session, maybe more or less (it depends on my health at the time). If I’m already partway through a work, I’ll re-read and lightly edit what I produced in the previous session. This gets me back into the language, feel, and place of the story … my story-world experienced with all my senses.

Sometimes I’ll have no idea what I’m typing before I put fingers to keyboard. A whole scene may unravel onto the screen as I work, and at times I may be completely unaware of what my characters have been up to … until I stop typing and read what I’ve written. It truly is an adventure – and those surprises keep writing special and magical for me.

Once I have something to work with, Ron will take a look and offer his constructive suggestions, or query anything that doesn’t make sense to him, as a reader. He’s really good at finding holes in scenes or identifying something which doesn’t fit. Now and then, he’ll add something to ground the energies of the story. Without exception, our work is better with our joint input. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, that’s for sure.

We work together using a cloud-based document system, so that we can both type (and see the other’s remarks) in a document simultaneously. Comments can be left, emailed, and replied to, as each knot and niggle is worked through. I can’t imagine how we could work together on our writing without this system – not efficiently, anyway. We live about 30 miles apart, so passing over printed sheets of text every so often isn’t really an option, and email alone – which we used in “the early days” of our partnership – got confusing and unwieldy. And now that we are both regularly writing pieces for Writers’ Circle, we need to keep on top of it all.

As with any combined work – particularly a creative one – it takes a huge amount of trust to edit each others’ writing in this way. And even with our best-friendship at the heart of our writing and business partnership, we are human and sometimes still say things that are misunderstood or difficult to clarify. Occasionally, we even upset one another! Trust is the key, and also the belief that we are both doing the best we can, and never with any intention to wound.

As much of what we write as a duo falls under the genre of Visionary and Metaphysical Fantasy, what we write and publish can redefine what’s possible – at least to those unfamiliar with the ideas and concepts. The genre offers a new (perhaps pioneering) way of thinking and living, and can upset the status quo. Some readers already resonate with our work; others find it stimulates their own ‘extraordinary sensing’ or ‘awakening’. However some readers may not be ready for that. I believe that the trust we share is essential to support the times when self-belief is rocked by someone who doesn’t understand what we’re sharing, or when I get wary of putting myself and my stories out into the world.

Would I change it?

I certainly don’t plan to! But it all depends on what I’m guided to write next … 🙂

Anneli, a big thank you for inviting us to write for your blog and your readers. 🙂

If you’re a writer, did something specific trigger your writing journey?

If you’re a reader, do you wonder where some of the stories you read come from?

~~~

Book Image Group (with extra)

            website: http://www.lazuli-portals.com/

            blog: http://lazuliportalswriting.wordpress.com/

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lazuliportalstrilogy

twitter: https://twitter.com/LazuliPortals

Keywords and Clustering

Writing is basically a way of putting thoughts on paper. Our aim is to organize those thoughts cohesively for the reader to understand. Over time, many methods have been developed to help us transfer thoughts from our brain to paper or computer screen, and into the brain of the reader.

As I struggled to come up with a plan for the next scene of my work in progress, I remembered a basic method that worked well for me in the past. When too many thoughts are crowding my head, I like to organize them using “clustering,” sometimes  called “webbing.” It has been around for a few decades, but it is still a wonderful tool.

We all know about keywords. We use them in web searches all the time. One main word will trigger many other related words and ideas. In clustering we use keywords to trigger associations. The beauty of using keywords is that you don’t have to write whole sentences in order to remember the thoughts associated with them.

To organize your thoughts, start with a keyword for the main topic of your scene. Close your eyes and imagine that word. What thoughts come to mind? Choose a keyword from one of those thoughts and write it down, Circle it and link it to the main keyword. Do this for each of the ideas that come to you when you think about the main keyword.

Below you can see how I used clustering to come up with ideas about Tenedos Bay, the setting of my scene. Associated with that keyword, I have come up with five lesser keywords (like subheadings): rocky islets, trail, other boats, shelter, and forest. When I think of each of these in turn, more ideas come to me and I jot those keywords down, linking them to the origin of the thought. Once I have done that for each of the main keywords, I end up with five groupings of ideas. Now I’m ready to write.

img750I may not use all of the ideas that I jotted down, but it’s better to have more than I need than not enough. If you were using this particular cluster map, you might want to make some sentences about the trail to Unwin Lake. You can follow the links in that series of mini clusters and build your sentence from the keywords, adding any of the associations that you had in mind as you wrote them down. Using “rocks, roots, well worn,” and “Unwin Lake” you might come up with a sentence like: I followed the well-worn rocky trail to Unwin Lake taking care not to trip over tree roots that crossed the path.

Two shorter sentences would probably be better, but you get the idea of using the cluster words in your writing. Once you have your basic idea written, you can play with the sentence to make it better until you’re happy with it.

You can elaborate on these ideas until you’ve reached into the farthest recesses of your mind to pull out every associated idea that you feel is relevant, and when you’ve finished, you have a paragraph of sentences that are all related to the keyword “trail.”

Each of the groupings will make a good paragraph. Your thoughts will be organized and no longer be mistaken for scrambled eggs in word form.

If you haven’t tried clustering, why not give it a try just for fun?

 

First Lines – First Impressions

Have you heard the expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Well, so it is with books.

Writing a book is a challenge, but getting people to read it can be even more difficult. It is the author’s job to turn that novel into a page turner. First, though, he has to get someone to start reading. The first page of a book can snag a reader’s interest or have him slap it shut and toss it away, never to be opened again.

A good book will hook the reader on the first page. An excellent book will hook the reader in the first paragraph, or even the first sentence. Authors must not underestimate the importance of that opening line. It is worth spending a lot of time on, if it means getting it right.

What should a first line, or at least a first paragraph, do?

Make the reader:

  • wonder what’s going on
  • wonder what happened and why
  • want to know what will happen next
  • want to know how the situation will be resolved
  • want to turn the page and read more.

The writer has only a few words to convince the reader that his book is worth reading. Please have a look at these opening lines and decide whether you would want to continue reading the book.

1. I knew I must have the wrong address. He was absolutely stunning. My heart fluttered and thudded frantically. Heat rose to my face. I ducked my head in embarrassment, but couldn’t keep my eyes off him. (The Wind Weeps – Anneli Purchase)

2 .I was born twice: first as a girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. (Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides)

3. Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. (Moby Dick – Herman Melville)

4. On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. Bridge. He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. (Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

5. They say ignorance is bliss. I can vouch for that. My life was humming along just fine until I received that letter. Afterwards, nothing was the same. (Orion’s Gift – Anneli Purchase)

6. Men’s voices, harsh and abrupt, sent a stab of fear through her. She peered cautiously up an alleyway towards the town square. (Julia’s Violinist – Anneli Purchase)

So, for the authors out there, you see that we have our work cut out for us. Let’s shine up our opening pages. Isn’t it worth doing after spending so much time writing a whole book?