Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Question of Beginnings

[Cross-posted from Fur, Fey & Fangs.]

Tall, Dark & Dead actually starts with a two sentence question and answer:

“What’s the best way to keep Vatican witch hunters off your scent? Dress to kill.”

Dead Sexy also begins with a question:

“Who knew there were so many dead things in Madison, Wisconsin?”

The book I’m working on right now (tentatively called Bloody Charming) begins with:

“I was on my bicycle five miles out of town and thinking about what it might be like to settle down, really settle down with a vampire, like forever, when I saw the gray wolf on the side of the road.”

...which is clearly not as snappy as the other two, and may explain a bit why I’m still struggling with this sucker. I’ve started Bloody Charming three times now and can’t quite get things into focus. I’ve decided, in fact, to abandon perfection for the moment in order to keep moving forward.

I agonize over first lines. I’m convinced that they’re critical in hooking (hoodwinking?) your reader into buying your book. I know that when I’m thinking about book buying I often judge a book first by its cover, its back copy, and then by the first page or so of the author’s writing. Given that usually only one of those is in the author’s complete control, I figure I need to make my first page a real grabber.

How do you buy a book? How important is that first page (if you even read it)?

4 comments:

Steve said...

You won't like my answer. I read the back cover, and if it sounds interesting I open to a random point in the book and read a page or two. If it's still interesting, I buy it.

Of course, that only applies if I'm in a book store. Online it's all about knowing the author, or having a really intriguing blurb.

reader kurt said...

Rarely read the first page. What about maps? You didn't mention maps. :)

jpj said...

Anymore, I buy books based on the book's author. Has to be an author who's work I already know or who has been recommended to me.

I can't remember the last time I bought a book by an author I didn't already know.

Mel said...

Wow, I'm waaaay behind on your blog!

I am a back cover junkie, right after cover art. You see, I look to cover art to imply 'theme' to me. Cover art for snappy, sassy chick lit is distinct from cover art for quest high fantasty is distinct from mystery. I can spot 'my kind' of books anywhere just by glancing over what type of artwork they've chosen for the cover. Then I read the back cover (or flap, or whatever). Then I give the book 10-20 pages to grab me.