Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - writing that first paragraph

It might seem like a lot of pressure... Okay, there is a lot of pressure on writers to hook the reader in with the first paragraph. Most readers need to feel an immediate interest in the protagonist and his/her story. It's a tricky feat to accomplish and even trickier to do so with paranormal romance. The stakes are raised because the reader is expecting something apart from the ordinary.

The first sentence needs to have a hook. Use humor or a surprising fact about the protagonist or his/her world. Keep it short and snappy.

Make sure your protagonist has a unique voice. Paranormal romance gives you a lot of room to create amazing characters. They do have to be human enough for the reader to relate to, but just a little tweak to the ordinary can go a long way. Also, keep in mind, something way outside the norm can turn the reader off.

Introducing danger immediately is an excellent way to hook a reader in. Paranormal romances tend to be fast paced and full of action. The tension and immediacy will set your reader on the edge of their seat.

Set the tone of your novel. A few shocking words can take the story a long way. Make it intriguing and quietly raise the questions your novel will address.

Three wonderful examples:
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
Fallen by Lauren Kate

What are some of your favorite first paragraphs?

Please check out my interview with science-fiction romance author Aubrie Dionne and comment for a chance to win a copy of A Hero Rising. You still have two days to enter!

28 comments:

  1. I WANT to read Dark Fever SOOOO bad. I have the hard copy sitting on my nightstand begging for my attention. I WILL read it soon. :)

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    1. I know how time is precious, but the Fever series is one you won't regret. Just for Barrons alone!

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  2. I'm very much into paranormal just now so your recommendations look great. I just read Deborah Harkness's "A Discovery of Witches" which has set me off.

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  3. Update (3 seconds later LOL) - I just bought Dark Fever he he...so I'll let you know

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    1. Woo-hoo! The series is fantastic. Barrons is my favorite paranormal hero.

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  4. I re-wrote my first paragraph and line so many times!

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    1. I'm always going back changing and tweaking things too.

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  5. That first line and first paragraph are probably the most important in a novel. I've been reading Les Edgerton's HOOKED, and it has some great advice about that first chapter. :)

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    1. I have that on my TBR list. Drat! I just checked with my library and they don't have it. Now it's added to my birthday wish list. *LOL*

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  6. I agree first paragraphs need to set the tone, and hook us in.

    This technique is always used in the movies. After 2 minutes you should be able to tell what genre the movie is...

    I'm struggling to write a good first paragraph in my latest WIP, I'm trying to wrong foot the reader...and its proving tricky. I feel as if I've got to do it though...

    Happy Wednesday

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    1. Oh, you're tricky trying to do that your reader! I do like it when an author can manage to do it to me, though. Good luck!

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  7. Ah,the first line. I actually have a great one in my WIP. I also managed to use it as the last line. Clever me, right? Now, if I can just get the other 84,975 words to cooperate.

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    1. That is clever. Good luck with the rest of the manuscript. I know the feeling!

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  8. I don't have one to share with you (there are so many!) but it is true: if I don't like a book's first page, I set it back down. I try to remember that when I write my own first page. When I start drafting, I already know that the first line's probably going to change.

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    1. The first page can turn me off a book too. I usually try to give it another chance, but the first page is very telling.

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  9. These are some great suggestions!

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  10. I think a reader gives a book about a minute before setting it down, so those opening lines had better be grabbers. And you're right. That voice is super important right from the start.

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    1. That sounds about right. I'm bored after a minute if it doesn't grab me right away. Even if the blurb intrigued me, an annoying or weak voice can turn me off.

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  11. I'm mostly interested in establishing tone. I want to say to the reader that this novel is whimsical, and odd, and more English than twenty days of constant drizzle. It is, I believe, known as giving people fair warning.

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    1. I love that description! That's definitely fair warning. :)

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  12. I love your writing...and happy to have you on board the A to Z Challenge April 2012!

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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    1. Thank you! I'm excited about the Challenge. :)

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  13. First lines are so hard to get perfect... but once you do, they just rock:)

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    1. A good first line can immediately pull me in, for sure!

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  14. I can't remember how many times I've re-written my first paragraph, and I've no doubt I will still do it a few more times before I'm through. I've read Dead Until Dark but not your other two suggestions, I have to check those out. Great post! :)

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    1. I'm always tweaking my first paragraphs. For my current WIP, I'm about to go rewrite the whole thing again!

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  15. The first paragraph of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would be one favorite. The beginning of Toni Morrison's Beloved, another.

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