Listening to: Nickelback, Dark Horse (I’m especially enjoying ‘If today was your last day’ – very uplifting)
Reading: Lucy Dillon, Walking Back to Happiness (enjoying)
Thank you to everyone who was brave enough to post their first lines, and a hug to those who didn’t quite feel brave enough but left a comment here or on FB anyway. I do understand your worries about people commenting on your work, and I would like to reassure you that there will never be any snarkiness on my blog. In my view, making fun of people and coming up with ‘witty’ comments ripping people to pieces is a form of bullying. What does it achieve apart from hurting people? Constructive criticism is much more useful – being honest and pointing out why something doesn’t work for, you so the author can think about whether they might want to change something for the future, but doing it WITHOUT trying to make yourself look big at their expense. (And, as Lou pointed out on the FB version of the blog, people who comment here are all nice, kind people – long may it stay that way!)
I got my daughter to pick a name out of the hat after breakfast, and the winner of the book is Susan Wilson – Susan, please can you email me with your snailmail address, so I can get the book in the post to you?
There were some lines that really intrigued me, so I do hope you’re all going to keep it up and finish those books :o)
I’m not going to comment individually on the first lines, because I’m not an editor – and it’s an editor you need to impress, not me. What I will do is give you some questions to ask yourself instead, to help you move on.
- Does your first line open the book at a point of change? (It’s conventional, yes, but it’s a convention that works well in any storytelling. I would give you technical terms, but I believe that sometimes it’s too easy to get hung up on those and if you write too much ‘from the head’ you can end up missing the point of a romance novel: it has to be driven by characters you care about, i.e. it comes from the heart. And I speak as someone who’s made that mistake before now!)
- Does it shed light on the character and give you an idea of what kind of person he/she is?
- Does it get your hero and heroine together on the page as early as possible? (Even if they’re not physically together, talking about each other will do the same thing – readers want to engage with your hero and heroine asap.)
- Does it make the reader want to know what happens next?
- Are you starting at the right place in the story, or too late, or too early? (Sometimes you won’t know the answer to this until you’ve written a couple of chapters and have to scrap them – which is painful, but it’s not wasted work. It’s information that you needed to know before you could write the book. And, yes, I’ve done that, too.)
The answers to those questions (and they have to come from you, from the heart, for the book to work properly) will give you one of two things: confirmation that you’re heading in the right direction, or a goal to work towards to make your book stronger. Good luck!
Two last things – Susan, please can let me know the title of that Harlequin book, because I’d love to read it? And Michelle, I had a 'snap' moment when I read your opening: guess what my Capri book starts with? ;o)
As for blogging elsewhere... I’m over at I Heart Presents later today, talking about my new US release, Champagne with a Celebrity (aka the perfume book) – and about the research that I absolutely LOVED doing for it. Do feel free to go over and leave a comment :o)