Grab Them and Keep Them

In recent years, I have started reading books and haven’t finished them. For a book lover, that is almost a heresy!

How could I do that?

Like many people, I have a crowded schedule. If I sense after a few pages that the characters are lifeless, the plot is taking a while to even hint at action or the writing just isn’t enthralling, I bail out.

All of the above criteria are after I determine that the book might sustain my interest.

Since I’m an author, I want to love every book. Really.

Perhaps I’m just getting fussier.

In one of my book groups, a group member suggested starting a book with a startling image – like a character that discovers a corpse with a knife in the back.

Okay, that would certainly get my attention. Depending on the genre, that dead character might be an appropriate “grabber.”

If I’m reading a less deadly genre, I’d need something else to catch and keep my attention.

Based on approaches I’ve learned from screenwriting, I offer the following suggestions for writing:

1) Start, but make it seem like actions are already underway. (Do NOT start with characters waking up to an alarm clock and acting frantic. Cliché!)

2) Make sure each character’s dialogue has a “unique” voice, speech pattern, etc.

3) Build in enough contention and challenges to make the reader want to turn the page to find out what will happen next.

Suspense is the grabber, but an engaging, well-written story with memorable characters is what will keep a reader connected until the final page.

Question: Please share a favorite book and its beginning. What made it memorable to you?

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