Jane Jones sat drinking her herb tea by the window and looking out on her backyard. She enjoyed how her decision to use mainly blue and yellow flowers had painted a beautiful summer landscape.
Contentment filled her. Owning her own house and having a good job to pay for it made waking up each morning rewarding. She even had a newly acquired housemate in the form of a terrier puppy to enjoy.
The phone rang, and Jane spent the next twenty minutes catching up with her best friend Sue. Soon it would be time to head off to Bible study at church, and Jane collected her well-worn Bible from the bedroom and her notebooks from the living room. Yada . . . Yada . . . Yada . . .
Why do authors persist in starting their stories in such painfully slow manner? Nothing has be presented to make me care about this character or want to keep reading about her.
Send me a chapter that opens like this, and 9 times out of 10 I'll pitch it across the room to the recycle bin. If I make myself read further, it is likely because something in the story summary promised a plot hook that I'm determined to find -- or I feel obligated to the author. Beginnings can be revised, but even an interesting story summary often doesn't have enough power to pull me past a slow and boring beginning. If the book starts out slow, I fear the author will never get it revved up enough to push past that dreaded middle drag that so many authors fall prey to.
I want to be lassoed and hauled into your story. I want to quickly get so tangled up in your characters' lives that before I know it I've read the first 3 chapters and I'm panting for more.
Jillian Jasper's green thumb had become particularly helpful when turning her backyard into a cemetery.
One sentence and my attention is alert. Why would anyone want to bury someone in their backyard? Is she a murderer? Is she nuts?
When you read other authors' fiction, pay close attention to how the book starts. Do you find yourself getting engaged in the story quickly, or could you easily put it down after reading the first page?
Can you think of a fiction book that had you hogtied within the first paragraph?