Querying & Agent Tips of the Week (Beginnings)

Today’s tip is less about querying/agents and more about the actual writing process, which is just as (if not more) important. Today’s post comes from material in the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents book. The article which today’s post is based on was written by author Maralys Wills.

Picture Source: http://tvtropes.org
Picture Source: http://tvtropes.org

One of the most important and most difficult things a writer has to do is write the opening for their book. Writers have to come up with a hook right away or they will likely lose their readers/agents. I can definitely think of a few times where I’ve started a book and almost didn’t want to continue because the beginning was boring. I can also think of many instances where I struggled with hooking opening lines for my stories.

Here are six suggestions on making your book opening more interesting:

1. Displaying attitude is considered one of the best tactics to get readers interested in your story. A great example is the opening lines of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

2. Using an element of surprise will catch your reader off guard and leave them wanting to know more.

3. Having a tragedy (or a hint of one) occur in or near the beginning of the story is a great hook for most readers. For example, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

4. Showing Strong Atmosphere. Describing the weather is considered a cliche’, but if done well, it works. See The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

5. Have your Narrator make an interesting observation. Check out the opening lines of The Firm by John Grisham.

6. Use irony or humor. For example, Why I’m Like This by Cynthia Kaplan.

The one element that all of the six suggestions for openings has is immediacy–the ability to drop your reader right into the story. Make sure that your book has the best beginning possible before querying.

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Don’t forget about January’s writing prompt!

And if you haven’t check out my Book Cross Over partner’s website, please do so.

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