Give Readers A Grand Opening

The opening sentence of a book, or any piece of writing for that matter, is like a Grand Opening event. It should excite you and make you want to hang around—that means keep reading to The End where you get the Grand Opening Prize: a great ending.

Next Tuesday, my latest romance Cinderella Blue, available now on pre-order for only 99 cents until April 13, will be published.

New Beginning

I took a couple of weeks off to visit family, do my taxes, and catch up on all the clerical stuff that goes along with operating my writing business. Today, I'm starting a new novella, Heat Lightning, which will be one of 21 contemporary romances in the Summer Fire Contemporary Romance Anthology. The Summer Fire Box Set will be released May 26th.

My biggest concern today is that all important opening sentence and/or paragraph. This tiny part of a book is so important because it determines whether a reader will want to keep reading.

Each time I start a manuscript, I spend a lot of time thinking up the perfect opening sentences for the story and the character. In a couple of sentences I want you to meet the character and glimpse something about her personality, attitude, and emotional condition that will make you want to read more.

What Hooks You?

As a reader, what about a book hooks you? The author’s name? The cover? The Book Description? The first sentence or paragraph?

(Leave your answer about what hooks you as a Comment on this post along with your email address, written out not as a hot link, and be entered in the March Swag Bag Giveaway. If the winner resides in the lower 48, this will be mailed to you. If the winner is abroad, you'll receive a digital Swag Bag. Prize to be awarded on or about April 3.)

Compelling Opening

When book shopping, I always open a book—whether that’s in a bookstore or online with the “Look Inside” feature—and read the first paragraph. This small amount of text should be crafted to capture a reader with an intoxicating first sentence, first paragraph, first page—followed by equally addicting pages to the very end.

I measure my opening sentence against the yardstick of great story openers created by my favorite authors. Excellent opening sentences capture the reader’s attention. They should make readers curious or elicit an emotional reaction: laughter, excitement, sadness, etc.

Here's the opening paragraph from my soon to be published romance, Cinderella Blue.

Andie Luft peered through the bridal veil, searching for the slimeball photographer who had ruined her day. She just hoped she saw Lombardo before he saw her, but looking through the white tulle was like watching television with the cable disconnected.

Other Openings

The first day of spring in New York featured the kind of weather Madeline Quinn most hated. Cold, gray, wet, and miserable— which made it perfect because that’s exactly the way she felt. (April Fool Bride)

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. (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 into a swan.)

Snowflakes drifted down, falling from a black velvet sky, sliding past the concrete canyons of downtown Houston to the streets and sidewalks below. Staring out the hotel window, Noelle wondered how much longer she would have to wait. If David walked in right now, what would she do? (LuvU4Ever)

Jennifer Monroe shivered and rubbed the goose-bumped flesh of her arms. A meat locker would be 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? (Just One Look. Is there a woman who won’t identify with that paragraph?)

When she found the person responsible for this, she would make them pay. And pay big! (JANE I’m-Still-Single JONES)

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. (Nobody’s Cinderella)

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. (Old Enough to Know Better)

By the time most people reach the eve of their thirtieth birthday, they’ve developed a philosophy of life, shaped by the experience of living. Judy Anne Palmer was no exception. She had a philosophy of life, shaped by life’s hard lessons and honed by the last eight years to a stark two-word declaration. Life sucks! (Romeo and Judy Anne)

Men looked at Amanda Whitfield and thought she was a hot blonde who knew how to have a good time. Hot? Sizzling. Sexy? Undeniably. Men figured she knew all about flirtation and lust and sex. They were wrong. (Scents and Sensuality)

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. (The Trouble With Love)

Some of My All-time Favorites

Here are some favorite opening sentences that intrigue or tease with a sense of anticipation, evoking curiosity and/or an emotional response in the reader that can’t be resisted.

“The scream was distant and brief. A woman's scream.” Phantoms by Dean Koontz

“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

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Takeaway Truth

Thank you for supporting my new release Cinderella Blue. Let me know if you leave a review of Cinderella Blue or any of my books. I'd like to send you a small token of appreciation for taking the time to promote my books. (Email me: Joan at JoanReeves dot com. Put REVIEW in the Subject Box.)

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