The Author Wheel Podcast

Quick Tips to Craft Irresistible Book Openings

May 30, 2024 The Author Wheel
Quick Tips to Craft Irresistible Book Openings
The Author Wheel Podcast
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The Author Wheel Podcast
Quick Tips to Craft Irresistible Book Openings
May 30, 2024
The Author Wheel

Ever wonder why some books grab you from the first line, while others fail to spark your interest?

This week's quick tips are all about the opening hook.

Tip #1: Some people never read past the first paragraph, let alone the first page. Make it count!

Tip #2: Know the difference between in medias res and place en scene. Choose your start carefully.

We will be taking a break for the summer, so we're turning off paid sponsorships. Make sure you subscribe on your favorite podcast player so you don't miss out when we come back on the air!

Plus, there might be a few summer surprises headed your way as well!

In the meantime, if you’re enjoying this podcast, please consider supporting the show by leaving  a five star review and sharing it with a writer friend. We don't advertise, so our growth is entirely dependent on word of mouth.

We appreciate your generous help!

Follow Us!

The Author Wheel:
Website: www.AuthorWheel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorWheel

Greta Boris:
Website: www.GretaBoris.com
Facebook: @GretaBorisAuthor
Instagram: @GretaBoris

Megan Haskell:
Website: www.MeganHaskell.com
Facebook & Instagram: @MeganHaskellAuthor
TikTok: @AuthorMeganHaskell

Support the Show.

FREE Mini Email Course

Have you ever struggled to explain to others exactly what you write? Or wondered which of the many fiction ideas running through your brain you should tackle? If so, The Author Wheel’s new mini-course might be your solution.

7 Days to Clarity: Uncover Your Author Purpose will help you uncover your core writing motivations, avoid shiny-thing syndrome, and create clear marketing language.

Each daily email will lead you step by step in defining your author brand, crafting a mission statement, and distilling that statement into a pithy tagline. And, best of all, it’s free.

Click here to learn more!



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Show Notes Transcript

Ever wonder why some books grab you from the first line, while others fail to spark your interest?

This week's quick tips are all about the opening hook.

Tip #1: Some people never read past the first paragraph, let alone the first page. Make it count!

Tip #2: Know the difference between in medias res and place en scene. Choose your start carefully.

We will be taking a break for the summer, so we're turning off paid sponsorships. Make sure you subscribe on your favorite podcast player so you don't miss out when we come back on the air!

Plus, there might be a few summer surprises headed your way as well!

In the meantime, if you’re enjoying this podcast, please consider supporting the show by leaving  a five star review and sharing it with a writer friend. We don't advertise, so our growth is entirely dependent on word of mouth.

We appreciate your generous help!

Follow Us!

The Author Wheel:
Website: www.AuthorWheel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorWheel

Greta Boris:
Website: www.GretaBoris.com
Facebook: @GretaBorisAuthor
Instagram: @GretaBoris

Megan Haskell:
Website: www.MeganHaskell.com
Facebook & Instagram: @MeganHaskellAuthor
TikTok: @AuthorMeganHaskell

Support the Show.

FREE Mini Email Course

Have you ever struggled to explain to others exactly what you write? Or wondered which of the many fiction ideas running through your brain you should tackle? If so, The Author Wheel’s new mini-course might be your solution.

7 Days to Clarity: Uncover Your Author Purpose will help you uncover your core writing motivations, avoid shiny-thing syndrome, and create clear marketing language.

Each daily email will lead you step by step in defining your author brand, crafting a mission statement, and distilling that statement into a pithy tagline. And, best of all, it’s free.

Click here to learn more!



Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Author Wheel podcast. I'm Megan Haskell, award-winning fantasy author of the Signoria Chronicles and the Rise of Lilith series.

Speaker 2:

And I'm Greta Boris, USA Today bestselling author of the Mortician Murders and the soon-to-be-released Almost True Crime series. Together, we are the Author Wheel. Our goal is to help you overcome your writing roadblocks so you can keep your stories rolling. Today, we're gonna talk about the topic of one of our most successful workshops what should be on the first page of your book?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so this is this one's a fan favorite this one is always fun because it's very interactive. But yes, unfortunately we can't do the interaction today, so we're just gonna give you the quick tips.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, but maybe someday we'll do a Zoom workshop and y'all can sign up for it. So tip number one is write a great opening hook. You know, some people will never read past the first page. They're going to go to Amazon, they're going to go to the look inside. Or if you're pitching agents or publishers, they're going to read your opening page and if it doesn't grab them, that's the end. So that is a great tip write a great opening hook. But how? So here's a few things you can think about.

Speaker 2:

Your first sentence, or at least the first paragraphs, should foreshadow plot, tropes and or genre. So in our course we give tons of examples. We read the first lines of Stephen King, of some of our friends' books, of Leanne Moriarty, of our own books, but we don't tell people where those lines come from. We just ask the group to tell us, after we read that first line, what genre is the book and if it's a great hook. Nine times out of 10, they're correct. They get the genre right on the nose. If it's not a great hook, they don't know. So here's an idea of a way to test your first line or two Find some people who don't know what you're working on.

Speaker 2:

They don't know. So here's an idea of a way to test your first line or two Find some people who don't know what you're working on. They don't know the genre of the book you're working on. Put it out there and do a poll. What do they think? Do they think it's a mystery? Do they think it's sci-fi? Do they think it's fantasy? What do they think it is? If they consistently get it wrong or have just no idea, they're like I don't know, it could be anything. That means it's back to the drawing board.

Speaker 1:

All right. So tip number two is to decide upfront whether you want to start your book in medias res, which means in the action or without preamble, or flacen scene, which means in the action or without preamble, or plus and seen, which means setting up the scene right. So the difference between those two is going to set the reader expectations for the book and it kind of goes back to the hook as well, because, depending on your, your reader, your target audience, who you're trying to attract to your book, that's going to really help make this decision. So why? What am I talking about? Okay, so in medias res lends itself to action-oriented, faster-paced books, things like thrillers, urban fantasy, adventure stories, that kind of a thing, because those readers are looking to get right into the action. They want to be thrown into the battle on page one or see the dead body, but they don't need the whole setting around it, they want to get into it first, up front, right away. The blossom scene, on the other hand, lends itself to prose-heavy epics or cozies, where the world's setup and atmosphere are as important, or possibly even more important, than the immediate plot.

Speaker 1:

Now, going back to our quick tips the other day about no info dumps, you do still have to make sure that you're not slowing down the story too much. Right, you want to set the scene, you want to open and introduce your reader to the world, but it's still not an info dump. You're not telling them all the politics, all the history, all the lineage of all the characters. You're creating an atmosphere. You're literally setting the stage, setting up the. The. You know the scene backdrops if you were doing a play, right, that's what plus end scene actually means. So that kind of reader is going to be someone who wants to just slowly enjoy the setting. They want to experience the world, um, and be in it as much as see the action or feel that intensity of the adrenaline rush of the story.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I want to give a great example of this. For years and years In fact, we're going to do it again, I'm sure, with our grandson when he's old enough we would take our kids to the South Coast Repertory Theater and we would go to see a Christmas carol at Christmastime. And when that play opened, when the curtains opened, there would always be a number of characters back and forth across the scene, the stage, carrying things, having conversations. There was Christmas, there were some groups were standing in the corner singing Christmas carols and you were seeing this very, you know, victorian looking set.

Speaker 2:

That was obviously Christmas time and it just made me happy. Every time it's like I'm being invited into this world. But it was not long before Scrooge was on that stage having a big argument with somebody who's trying to take money from him, so it was just super well done. So I think exactly what you said, if you do, if you are going to do Plus Unseen, make it that invitation into your world, but not a very long invitation before you introduce. You know the characters and I also think even with place unseen, you can have that really great first line.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely A dark and stormy night. Yeah Right, like I mean, okay, that's stereotypical, now that's cliche, but that is Ploss and Scene. It's a dark and stormy night. It is not in media's rest.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

So, like it's about the atmosphere that you're trying to create for the reader, trying to create for the reader and the Dark and Stormy Night.

Speaker 2:

By the way, the reason it became a cliche is if you actually go and read that whole first intro paragraph. It was a couple of paragraphs, it was riveting, it was so well done. I mean, it was really atmospheric and really fabulous, and that's the reason everybody kept trying to mimic it. So so just thought I'd bring that up. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Alrighty, well, that is it for our quick tips as a reminder. We have decided to take a break for the summer, so this will be our last episode of season five. We, the summer, we've decided. We both have, you know, family and writing responsibilities and, quite honestly, we just kind of need a break.

Speaker 1:

um, I think we deserve a vacation, all in that so we will be back in the fall, but, um, for now we are going to take the summer off and we'll see you. See you later. I hope you enjoy your summer. But for those of you who have graciously supported the show, we will be turning off subscriber payments until we start up again. We obviously we're not producing new episodes, new content. We didn't want to continue to charge you for your support. So thank you again for contributing to the show. It truly means the world to us and we hope to see you back for season six. But until we meet again, keep your stories rolling.