Thursday, June 18, 2015

#Writing the Right Beginning



Like everything in life, starting out right can make things easier. Okay, perhaps that sounds too general but in writing having an opening hook can make or break your book's success. In a day when you can pick up free ebooks off the internet like you can books on the bookshelves of libraries, a book may only get a cursory once over. Have a catchy title (make it legible) and a good cover. People judge the book by the back cover copy or now...by the tag line on the cover or blurb online. Even after that, the sale may not be closed. The next test is the opening few pages of your story. The amount of time a reader will devote to becoming engrossed in your story and commit to reading more gets shorter everyday because thousands of new books get added to the TBR (to be read) pile daily. 
So let's recap. What will it take should you actually snare a reader to the first page? 
Something significant should happen to someone who matters to the reader and then something else, then something else. How interesting those something's (conflicts or complications) are determine whether the reader reads on. Conventional tropes are fine but give them a unique twist up front in order to separate your story from every other in your genre. The first rule after "once upon a time" is don't allow the reader to get comfortable until they are completely hooked, immersed, locked in, and vested in the story.

Defeat the Darkness begins with a few paragraphs which set up the evil that pervades all three books in the current series. Here's what I'm talking about:
Egypt, sometime after the Thirteenth Dynasty
Until Baphomet, no one had ever penetrated Aya’s protective shields to discover what she was. The fallen angel, leader of the Underworld demons and right hand to the ruler of Hades, needed her for what she provided—goddess blood. Tainted though it was, her blood, the blood of a Titan, was the one thing he required to remain in this realm, and his was necessary for her to return to the Underworld where she was raised.

The thrust of the demon’s teeth into her breast reminded her of his dark power. She shivered with pleasure while one of the worlds’ fiercest demons drank her essence to maintain his corporeal image—the one he used to mask his true appearance while building his demon army on this mortal plane. It wouldn’t do for his quarry to realize what they were befriending before he had them completely under his control. He was here to acquire men’s souls for his master, and to that purpose he agreed to share some of his power with her—power she craved.

But then, this is a prologue, a background to the true opening of the first novel. ~~~What does this prologue do? It establishes the genre, the heat level, the author's writing style. Anything else?
Now here is the opening that should capture the reader's attention and hook them into reading the story. (Most people skip the prologue, but may go back and read it if they have questions once they get into the story.)

The afternoon air sizzled in the New Orleans summer heat. As the rain started, Shelby inhaled the steamy air from the open balcony and stared out, unfocused. The light rain hit the hot pavement on the empty street below while the fan inside the room blew warm air over her naked skin. There was still time to convince Kyle to stay or take her with him. She tied her hair into a loose knot on top of her head, determined not to give up this fight without another attempt at changing his mind.
“I have to admit, I love the view.” His deep voice sounded raspy from sex and sleep. It startled her nevertheless, even though she knew he’d been on the verge of waking when she’d slipped out of bed. Kyle’s voice revealed more than a hint of his upper crust Boston accent. It revealed his arousal. The timber carried across the room sending a trill of excitement through her, along with a spark of heat.
The expression on his face made her heart clench when she took a quick glance over her shoulder. With her arms crossed over her chest, she turned around to confront him. He lifted his head, glancing in her direction while he sprawled sexually spent in post coital bliss on the trashed bed. His eyes were hooded, barely opened. The expression he wore revealed how much he enjoyed casually studying her.
Her soul ached because the man who’d become as necessary to her as the air she breathed, was leaving for Guatemala the next morning. When the knot in her throat tightened, she sighed to prevent the distress from turning into a torrent of tears. Squaring her shoulders, she swallowed her sorrow.
“That bed looks like an orgy hit it,” she said. She hoped he didn’t hear the crack in her voice.
“The way my body feels, one did. Several times, if I recall correctly.” Kyle lifted his head again to look around and nodded. “Hmm, it is a mess. You can be wicked bad when you put your mind to it.”
She glanced away and stared back at the view outside, blinking several times before clearing her throat. “Yes, I can.”
“I’m warning you, darling, if you don’t cover up, some early morning passer-by may start throwing beads up at you.”
“Let them,” she said. “I need to accessorize.”
His direct gaze took in all of her and filled her with lust. “No,” he said and paused. His inspection touched every exposed inch of her flesh. “You don’t require any accessories.”
~~~ So what does this opening do? It sets the location/scene. It sets the mood--the heroine's mixed emotions. A conflict--the hero is leaving. The reader experiences the hero's admiration for the heroine from his dialogue. A small segment of their relationship and personalities is exposed to the reader in this short excerpt. The heat level is obvious immediately. Anything else? Would you like to read more?

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