In the beginning
The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind of hospital visits, food deliveries to sick friends, puking kids, bits of bad news and crisis management. Despite all of that, I’m very excited to say that I’ve written Page One of my next novel. Generally my Page Ones get chucked during the editing process, but I like this one. Maybe this first page will be a breakthrough – a Page One I don’t throw away.
My writing process is often one of writing too much and then paring down. However, as one gains experience, it becomes easier to see or perhaps even feel where one is lagging (or screaming ahead). I recently did an appraisal of a new writer’s book (a service I offer to new writers who need professional feedback) and I was interested to see how long he took to get to the real opening. I scanned down almost into the second page and then found The Hook, The Line. The one that made me want to read on.
And most people are impatient. They don’t wait that long before putting the book back down. We have to hook them from the beginning.
Think of this line from the wonderful Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (2002):
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.”
Who wouldn’t read on? I know I did, and I still remember being on a ferry in Malta and being unable to put that book down.
So this is my goal for next week’s posts: to studyfive first pages and/or first lines I love and to explain why I love them.
If you have suggestions for my five books, let me know!