[T minus six days until Paris!]
One year ago this week I decided to begin a long put off writing career. I had a story in mind, one that would require a lot of preliminary research, but the bug had bitten, and there was no turning back. Of course the actual writing did not begin until my summer vacation, but the plotting and planning were in full swing.
So what I have learned during the past year? This morning I asked myself: if I had to pick the one most important lesson I’ve learned out of all the many daunting aspects of this craft, what would it be? The answer came to me quickly. Write a compelling and hook filled beginning. Hook the reader. Make them want to keep reading. And it is easier said than done.
For most of my reading years, I have happily read books which required a degree of patience from the reader. I knew that effort had to be put forth at the beginning of the book where everything was set up, before I could reap the joys of the more interesting middle and end. But today’s reader requires a faster start, and that has been a challenge for me. If they aren’t interested right from the start, they won’t stick with the book.
This is more important now than ever before. Last weekend I had the opportunity to hear the delightful literary agent April Eberhardt speak on the topic of today’s publishing trends. With the rising popularity of the e-book, writers must catch the reader’s interest faster than ever. A prospective e-book buyer can download a free sample of the book and decide within the first 1,000 words whether or not they want to continue reading and pay for that pleasure. There is no time to leisurely set up the story; the writer must plunge in quickly.
Speaking of books with great hook filled beginnings, I am finally reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Probably the last person on the face of the earth to read it, but better late to the party than never. Wow, talk about a book that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go! There’s a writer who really knows how to hook ‘em!
Next time I’m sure I’ll be full of stories of Paris! Till then…