By Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor
We all know the importance of a great hook expressed in the query letter--that's what's going to get me psyched (or not) about reading the manuscript. But for every single submission, even if I'm not entirely jazzed by query, I always want to to give the writing a look. And those first couple of paragraphs can make all the difference in the world. I want to see something compelling enough to keep reading. Depending on the story, that interest can come in all kinds of ways. Is there a character doing something interesting? Is there humorous dialogue? Is there some kind of tease that makes me want to know more? Or is the hero just so hot and delicious I can't tear my eyes away?
As Tamara was discussing earlier, a lot of authors use prologues to jump immediately into an action scene and then start chapter one a number of years later. That only works if chapter one stays just as interesting--and I'll gladly skip ahead a little to find out.
Overdone openings to avoid:
- waking up--unless there's something supremely unusual about the process
- a deathbed confession
- a birth
- the classic combo of 2 &3 with a mother dying in childbirth
- a killer's POV--this is done a lot in romantic suspense and some paranormal, so much so that it often loses its chilling effect for me
Category: Paranormal romance
Pitch: A woman in desperate needs makes a wish to the goblin king she read about in fairy tales, but will she be willing to pay the price of summoning him and become his queen?
The summons pulled at every cell in his body, tearing the bonds that held his body together and dragging him from the Shadowlands. He fought the compulsion to answer, as he did every time. And lost. As he did every time. The urge to obey his summoner’s orders he’d tamped down long ago. Yet he attended, as he did every time.
The beads in his hair jangled and chimed, lifted on the breeze created as he moved from one world to the next, like golden music in his ears. He moved into the Fixed Realm wrapped in shadows to hide from the eyes of his would-be-commander. Then he paused and looked around.
A bedroom. Not the first he’d been summoned to. The only light spilled from the nearby bathroom. His nose wrinkled at the smell of wet dog and wine. He frowned. No summoner stood before him, demanding an audience with the Goblin King. The human who’d called him from the Shadowlands and sought to control him lay on the floor at the foot of the bed. Immobile. Wounded. Female.
The goblin kept his hand on his sword and stepped forward. As he did the shadows sloughed off him and slid away to the corners of the bedroom. The tension in his skin eased as the compulsion to obey faded. He’d attended; he could leave. Yet he couldn’t look away.
So now it's your turn. Using the format above--category, 1-2 sentence pitch, first four paragraphs--so me what you've got. Through today and the weekend, I'll take a look at everything posted by midnight EST tonight and give feedback.
I can't wait to see your great beginning!