Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration ala Shelly Lowenkopf

I'll have to admit I've never read anything by this author but several things in her essay written years ago struck me as vital and inspired me to look at my current WIP. The essay talks about the "Rejection Resistant" novel.

"Three pages" "If you haven't caught their attention by then, you aren't likely to."

The RWA chapter I belong to has a contest where that's all those wanting a critique send. In the many years I've been judging the contest, I've found there aren't many entries that when the third page ends I want to read more of the book. There are those who almost make that cut but a lot that don't.

I also judge in a contest when those judging only read the first three chapters. Often when reading these entries I know by the time I finish those first three pages I don't want to read more, but I do. I read the first three chapters, some of the stories by the end of chapter three are pulling me forward to continue reading.

What sort of things usually stop me from wanting to read forward. The first is a great opening sentence but then nothing that interests me. Often this sentence is followed by pages of backstory. Sometimes of interest but often things the author needs to know to write the story. A second thing is the promise.

"Make promises you intend to keep." Which genre are you writing in. Each one has a kind of flavor that should permeate the opening pages. Romances, mysteries, historicals, fantasies, science fiction all have a certain flavor that needs to be established in the opening pages. I've judged entries that while they saw they take place in perhaps "Regency England" but nothing in those pages other than a date give me the flavor of the era. Or a suspense novel that starts out with a ramble through what seems to be a romance.

So think about those three pages and tear them up as often as possible. I know I've written the opening of each of my stories many times. Sometimes I haven't established the tone. Sometimes there's no clue to the kind of story is being told. Sometimes I get involved in back story and throw in everything I need to know but the reader doesn't have to know at that particular time.

1 comment:

Melissa Keir said...

I learned a lot in a class I took at Savvy Authors. They had a great deal of information on hooking the reader and not drowning them in back story!