Wednesday Wing…Does your book have a Wham! Impact opening line? #wwwblogs #WriterTips

Welcome to my new feature called Wednesday Wing where I’ll be passing on

observations, tips and information to readers I’ve made a note of.

Rosie's Notebook

Today I’m passing on a tip about HIGH IMPACT opening lines.

I read several books a week, each time I open a new book I look forward to the first lines pulling me in, making me ask questions, getting me inside the head of a character. To me that’s the making of a great book.

Kate Moretti gives a concise and extremely interesting post here called “Fishing Out Your Manuscript Hook” when she wrote a guest post for Writers in the Storm.

The more books I read the more I DISLIKE prologues/ prefaces, quotes and poems, pages which, for me, interfere with launching myself into the book.

What I want is a gem of a book which grabs me and takes me off on an adventure, an escape from my ordinary life and one where I can’t stop turning the pages.

I’m going to grab some books from my bookshelf and tell you their first sentence and let’s see which ones we would carry on reading.

It was at a love-spinning that I saw Kester first. (Precious Bane by Mary Webb) A small hook for me I want to know what a love-spinning is and who Kester is?

“I need poison…now…this very night” (The Gallows Curse by Karen Maitland) Another small hook, who needs the poison? Why is their speech drawn out? Are they ill or out of breath? 

It was dark under the trees, only a little moonlight penetrating the half-bare branches. (Sovereign by C.J Sansom) No real hook here for me.

Death…David lifted his eyes from the desk, looking at the framed photograph of Duane Hanson’s plastic sculpture “Supermarket Lady”.  (Handling The Undead by John Lindqvist) A small hook, who is David? but the rest did nothing for me, in fact the word plastic turned me off.

A flash of moonlight touched her hair with silver as she scurried along the street into town. (Cold Sacrifice by Leigh Russell) A very small hook, who is this lady? But not very exciting.

“Ever-Wait!” Damen reaches toward me, grasping my shoulder, hoping to slow me, to bring me to him, but I keep moving forward, can’t afford the delay. (Ever Lasting by Alyson Noel) A good hook. who is Damen? What are they running from or to? Are they running or walking fast? Why can’t they afford a delay?

 The road was a killer, hardly wider than a decent stream of spit and snaking like a cobra between giant bushes loaded with strange flowers that resembled drops of blood. (Indulgence in Death by J.D Robb) This one hooked me, in fact it had me reading on…Why was the road a killer? Where is it set? Is the blood a significance? Why does the narrator choose these analogies? What is their mind-set? Are they male or female?

Over to you, what do you look for in a first line?

Here are links to all  previous Wednesday Wing posts.

May 6th 2015 – Checking your WordPress is linked to your Twitter helps others share your posts http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7L2

May 13th 2015 – Writer’s Craft books by Rayne Hall full of REALLY useful tips http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7Ma

May 20th 2015 – Hyperlinks, Short links and Linkys http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7Rl

May 27th 2015 – Making your post titles easy to share on Twitter to maximise views. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7SA

June 17th 2015 – Creating Twitter pics that fit http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7Y4

June 24th 2015 – Creating a slideshow on WordPress http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7Yo

July 1st 2015 – Getting the most out of Google+ posts http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7YM

July 8th 2015 – Automated Tweets, LOVE ‘EM or HATE ‘EM? make use of them http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7Za

July 15th 2015 – What’s Your Book Genre? http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-84S

July 22nd 2015 – Should you write dreams into your work? http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-84Q

July 29th 2015 – What can I read in the first 10% of your book? http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-84W

August 5th 2015 – Dialogue – he/she said http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-87T

August 12th 2015 – Creating Twitter Lists – http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-8ck

August 19th 2015 – Making best use of your Twitter “Thank-You” http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-8cn

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29 thoughts on “Wednesday Wing…Does your book have a Wham! Impact opening line? #wwwblogs #WriterTips

  1. On your advice I have called my introduction an ‘Author’s Note’ and put it at the back of my new book instead – I think it has more impact there, anyway, because you’re more interested in a book AFTER you’ve read it, aren’t you! All I have at the now is just one paragraph, with a link to it. However, I like my dedication to remain at the front because there are people I want to thank, who might miss it otherwise. And it does have a prologue… but only a very relevant, one page one!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ps, re the lines – the ones I like are the last one, and the one that you felt had no hook. Thank GOODNESS we all like different things!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t mind a prologue as long as it’s a hook into the story but yes, sometimes the other stuff I can do without. My favourite example is JD Robb. You can usually count on her for great book openings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some prologues are so obscure that they mean nothing until you are almost at the end of the book while others give you an exciting taste of what you will find later in the story.

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    • Oh I agree, I can’t stand masses of characters quickly introduced all at the beginning with no depth to them, I can’t picture them and they become headless names. Keep meaning to tell you I was very proud to see one of your books in the school library, were it not for Twitter I would have passed it by.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I do love your posts, Rosie. I’m reading a book at the moment where the entire first chapter was a bit slow, I have persevered and I’m glad I did as it’s picked up the pace, but another reader may not have carried on.

    I’m also guilty of writing a prologue! It was a gruesome, fantasy fuelled prologue though, if that helps 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spot on Shelley, if you are a reader shopping for a book and using the “look inside” option and the opening pages are slow, you might be put off. Don’t mind me, some people won’t mind a prologue – I’m just really eager to get to the guts of the book.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. As always, a thought-provoking kick up the backside for writers who (may) need reminding what readers like/want.

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  7. The hardest line to write I think. I was going to have a prologue with my next one then read somewhere that people didn’t like it so have written it in instead and I’m not sure if that will work or not – but I like it 🙂 I was also told to put acknowledgements etc at the back as no one wants to hear the authors voice until after the read. That said I have a note at the beginning of Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water because it is needed.

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  8. Really enjoyed this post, Rosie, especially the brief analysis of those lines. I prefer a quiet hook rather than a shouty “look at me doing big drama” opening line.

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    • Me too. The ‘big opening hook’ has become such a cliche that, like the £500 professional super duper cover, it can be seen to be more important than the rest of the book.

      Not saying I wouldn’t like a £500 professional super duper cover, of course 🙂

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  9. This has to be the hardest thing to face me when you start your book. I’ve done two with prologues as real hooks and one without. I’ll have to see what my critique groups say, I guess.

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  10. Reading all these comments is so interesting. Re the prologue, I think this: if it needs one, it needs one. Some will like, some won’t. But, as Liz said above, it needs to be clear, not be a load of obscure dramatic stuff that means nowt to someone who hasn’t read the book yet.

    You realise I am saying this because my new book has one, of course ;D 😀 ;D 😀
    It is completely relevant, not obscure, and is only 1 page long!!!!

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  11. You’re exactly right, Rosie. I love beginnings that make me feel like I already have a vested interest in the book. Can’t stand lengthy intros in which I begin to wonder, “Where. is. this. going?” 🙂
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal – Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

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  12. I want something that sets the stage for the rest of the book. Give me something that tells me I really do want to read the book, but keep it short and sweet – lengthy intro’s can be death to a book.

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