How Do You Capture Readers

Since we're in a countdown for my daughter's wedding Saturday, I'm having to prioritize my time in favor of family obligations.

That means that writing, blogging, and all that goes with being an author must take a back seat for a while. I'm distressed that I'm leaving all of you word slingers and readers without my daily two cents.

So I thought I'd post some of the articles I've written on other blogs and on my various other websites. Today, I'm giving you a blog post I wrote in February for 99cent Ebooks.

If you are primarily a reader, rather than a writer, you may find some of these insights explain much about the books you see for sale.

How Do You Capture Readers?

Whether you are a reader or a writer, chances are, you know the answer to this question. A book captures a reader with an intoxicating first sentence, first paragraph, first page–followed by equally addicting pages two through two hundred or more.

Oh, compelling cover art, back "blurb," author quotes, and a few other things help too. Unfortunately, most of these other things cannot be controlled by authors if they are published by traditional print or ebook publishers. If they are indie authors who self-publish, then they have a complete control over the entire package.

What Writers Control

However, what all writers can control regardless of the publishing process is the writing–the words they choose and the way they put them together to create the story. That's what all writers should focus on.

Each time I start a manuscript, I think I've got the perfect opening sentence for the story and the character. Often, I compare my opening sentences to some of my favorites to see whether I feel that frisson of awareness that shivers up my spine when I read some of my all-time favorites.

I want to share some of these sentences that always intrigue me no matter how many times I've read them. They sing a siren song that made me read the book the first time, and they still tease me with their sense of music and rhythm. I think these opening sentences evoke an emotional response in the reader, and that's what readers can't resist.

Favorite Opening Sentences

"Last night I dreamt I went to Mandeley again." (Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier)

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York." (The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath)

"I never knew her in life." (The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy)

"Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not at the subconscious level where savage things grow." (Carrie by Stephen King)

"Death was driving an emerald green Lexus." (Winter Moon by Dean Koontz)

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)

Opening Acts

The worst thing about reading someone else's sparkling prose is that I despair of ever being as good. The best thing is that I'm motivated to improve my writing skills. So I keep writing and working on my prose, from the first few sentences to the last one preceding, "The End."

Here are a few of the opening lines from some of my books. I write romantic comedy so I want to hit a humorous note from the very first sentence.

Just One Look.

I'm pretty sure every woman reading this excerpt from my first ebook romance can identify with my heroine.

"Jennifer Monroe shivered and rubbed the goose-bumped flesh of her arms. A meat locker would feel warmer than a doctor's examining room! Why do they have to keep it so cold? And why do they act as if you have nothing better to do than sit around clad only in a piece of paper and your birthday suit, and wait?"

Still The One

I'm fairly certain every woman has fantasized about what she'd do if given the chance to show someone from her past how she has grown from an ugly duckling to a swan.

"Ally Fletcher had waited six years for this opportunity. Six long years. There was no way a mere thunderstorm was going to stop her. Of course, in Texas, calling this a mere thunderstorm was like saying a Texas tornado was a mere puff of wind."

The Trouble With Love (Book 1, Texas One Night Stands)

"Every woman makes mistakes. Susannah Quinn glared at the door to the Sheriff's private office. Yep, every woman makes mistakes, but most women didn't have to put up with a constant reminder of their not so brilliant actions. And most women didn't have their mistake showing up at their office –flaunting tanned muscles and polluting the environment with clouds of testosterone and male arrogance. Of course, mistake didn't quite describe what she'd done. No tiny lapse in judgment for old Susannah Quinn. When she decided to throw common sense out the window, she didn't mess around."

Nobody's Cinderella (Book 1, San Antone Two-Step)

"Darcy Benton wondered if she needed to check into a hospital. Her nervous system seemed to have shorted out, producing feet that felt like blocks of ice and hands that perspired as if it were July rather than December. Her heart raced faster than a quarter horse, and her face felt as warm as a passive solar collector at the end of a hot Texas day."

Old Enough To Know Better (Book 1, The Good, The Bad, and The Girly)

"If you can't trust your friends, then who can you trust? Stormy clarkson planned to pose that question to her soon-to-be ex-friend Libby the minute she saw the conniving woman. In the meantime, all she could do was ignore Sean Butler, the physical manifestation of Libby's scheming."

What are the opening acts in some of your favorite books?

Takeaway Truth

I'm one of the luckiest people on the planet. I make my living by writing stories about love, romance, sex, commitment, and all the funny, crazy things that happen to a man and a woman who are made for each other–but who don't yet know it.

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