Well, folks. It was fun while it lasted.

As you can see, not much has been happening on this blog lately.

There are several reasons for this, but I will only hit on a couple:

First: It's amazing how much can change in a couple of months--both in our personal lives and on the writing front. A couple of us have signed publishing contracts, and so the need to write, edit, market, promote HAD to take preference over this blog and the services we were providing.

Second: Running this blog, critiquing submissions, providing feedback...well, that's a LOT of dang work. We weren't getting paid for this service. We had a concept and we went with it--for free--not realizing how much time it would involve with very little (nothing) in return for our effort.

Third: Probably the biggest factor that made us come to this decision, was the fact that a good portion of the submissions we received just weren't ready. They needed more revision. We were wanting to give out reviews on AMAZING, fully complete, well edited novels. 90% of what we received didn't come close.

So we've shut it down. We've moved on.

If you liked our comments and our posts, you can check us out on our individual blogs:

Angela Scott: www.whimsywritingandreading.weebly.com or @whimsywriting on twitter or http://www.facebook.com/AngelaScottWriter

D.S. Tracy:

Kacey Mark:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Does Your First Sentence Have What it Takes to Hook a Hook'er?

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 6:18 AM
CRITIQUE UPDATE:  Before I delve into my blog topic, we here at Ready, Aim, Hook Me just want to say thank you for all the support and encouragement we’ve received so far. Our blog launch Monday, went smoother and better than we had anticipated. Submissions are rolling in and we are excited and honored to start reading your work. 

The best way for us to get our name and blog recognized is by word of mouth. If you know anyone who could use a review of their novel, send them our way. We’d appreciate it. Help us spread the word.


I heard a quote that said, “Not all stories start at the beginning.”  And I will tell you right now that great books never do.

Here are some examples: 

1)      They shoot the white girl first—Toni Morrison, Paradise 

2)      Dirk Moeller didn't know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident. But he was ready to find out.—John Scalzi, The Androids Dream 

3)      It was the day my grandmother exploded—Iain N. Banks. The Crow Road

4)    I was born twice: first, as a baby 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.—Jeffery Eugenides , Middlesex

5)      I write this sitting in the kitchen sink—Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

6)      The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault—Jim Butcher, Blood Rites

Sure, these are the first words in these novels, but it is definitely not the beginning of the story by any means. From the opening line, the reader is tossed into the story headfirst.

For myself, that’s just the way I like it too.

Of the six books above, I’ve only read only one, but the other five have my full attention. I have a flood of questions banging around inside my head. I want to know more. I want to know why she is sitting in the kitchen sink or why the grandmother combusted or what it means that the white girl was shot first. I want to read on. I need to read on.

Isn’t that what all authors are hoping for?

Les Edgerton author of Hooked says, "Your first sentence is the door into the house of your manuscript. Do you want it to be inviting, attractive, intriquing? Or do you want one that whimpers, The Mundanes reside here. Enter at the risk of falling asleep”

Here’s the cold, hard truth: Readers, agents, editors, (and hook’ers, as well) are not obligated to read beyond your first opening line, paragraph, or page. 

You may have an exciting scene coming up in chapter two or three, but if you can’t hook your reader from the get-go, they may never even make it past page one. What a shame.

Does this mean you have to start your book with a dead body (okay, I did that in one of my novels, but it was necessary—totally not cheesy. I promise), or with a big fight scene or a house on fire? No. Not at all. What it does mean, though, is that you need to create curiosity. Whet our appetite, get the reader invested in the story by drawing them in and then revealing the story slowly over time, tugging not only at their minds but their hearts as well.  It’s a tricky balance for sure.

In a world filled with people who have short attention spans, the opening sentence becomes even more important. It will determine if a reader will purchase your book, since a lot of readers flip to the first page to see if the story begins well. It will determine if an agent or editor is willing to take a chance on you. Miss Snark, Literary Agent, had this to say, "You don't need a perfect first line. You just need a first line that doesn't make me think 'this sux'. We set things down when they're bad, not when they're not good enough.There's a big distinction. It's hard to describe. Two days in my slush pile and you'd see it clearly. If you read the first page crapometer entries one after another, you'll see it there too. Your first lines should leave the reader wanting to know more." (Miss Snark, Perfect First Lines)

So now you’re probably asking, “Oh great hook’er, tell me how to write an awesome first line, first paragraph, first page . . .”

I’m sorry to say, there is no perfect formula. I think it comes with practice and more practice and EVEN more practice. Hand your first paragraph to your beta readers and ask the question, “Does this hook you? Tell me the truth.” If you get a Holy Crap, yes! Then you know you’ve got something pretty good going on. If not, keep playing with it. 

It’s too important not to. 

By Angela Scott, "I'm NOT a hooker Hook'er"


Recommended Reads.
Hooked, Les Edgerton, Writers Digest Books
Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass, Writers Digest Books

4 comments:

shelliesakai on June 1, 2011 at 8:40 AM said...

I love it! I want to be a Wicked Hook'er! Will be spreading the word on your skills.

And I definately need you...OL!

Lyn Midnight on June 1, 2011 at 4:57 PM said...

Talk about short attention spans. I skim rad a lot lately. I want to read more in the same span of time, so I skim, lol. Anyway, this was a very useful and amuzing post. And I just LOVE the style of this blog. Bookmarking it. ;)
Btw this is my fave: "Dirk Moeller didn't know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident. But he was ready to find out."
Currently, I am having a first chapter dilemma of my MS and you just reminded me what I already know but sometimes forget. Start at the thick of it. Thanks, Angela. Looking forwad to your posts and the other hookers', I mean hook'ers' lol.

Juliana L. Brandt on June 1, 2011 at 5:37 PM said...

I definitely need to work on this. The thought of my first sentence is there, but the wording needs some work!

Great post- it reminded me I need to rework my beginning.

Rachael Harrie on June 2, 2011 at 2:21 PM said...

What intriguing first lines! Great to hear the launch of your blog has gone well, best of luck with it :)

Hugs,

Rach

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