Sunday, March 4, 2018

The author-reader contract

I promised myself that I would never discuss a book's problems online. But I felt in this case I had to make an exception. I won't name the book, author or publisher. I'll simply refer to the author as you. Examining the book to determine what I felt was wrong has helped my writing and I hope it will help yours.

"on a clear day" ldyck

You, as the author, stated your intention on the back of the book. In short, you promised to entertain me. Bookstores and libraries are full of books. Congratulations on getting your book into my hands. I flipped open the book and I read... 
'My name is (name retained), I'm eleven years old, and this is a story about my brother.'

And I stopped reading... Where was the finesse? Where was the charm? Why didn't your editor or publisher encourage you to re-write the sentence to something that would grab my attention? 

Something like...
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice--not because of his voice, or because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany. John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

This opening sentence not only introduces me to the topic of the book--Owen Meany--but also briefly underlines why he is so special--he caused a mother's death and lead the narrator to God. After reading that sentence, I have to read on. 

'A good hook will not only create interest, but also set the mood, tone, atmosphere, and create expectations for the reader.' Read the entire article

'Strong characters draw readers into your plot. This dynamic is called the bond.' James Scott Bell, Plot & Structure

'[M]ake the hook and text integral to each other...I'm not advocating bland hooks; the challenge is to have the provocative hook but at the same time not have the discrepancy.' Noah Lukeman, The First Five Pages:  A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

More examples of good first lines and why they work.

And wow. After writing and re-reading this article, I, as a writer, feel the pressure to carefully craft my opening sentence, paragraph, chapter, book. Of course, we can't all write like John Irving--but we must be entertaining, we owe it to our readers.

Reading this article will help you write your hook 
Writing a Hook First Line 

My dad and me visiting BC

Next post:  Sunday, March 11 (at approximately 5:00 PM PST)
27 years I was considering a career change; 27 years ago my dad (AJ Willetts) sent me the letter I'm going to share with you. 

"Abby inspiring story" ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

Spring is submission season on my computer. I've bought stamps and am filling envelopes. 

And... A few days ago, I went for a walk with Abby. She was nosing around in the grass and all of a sudden I thought, hey. Almost before I got back inside, I'd written another picture book. :)


Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne —

yes, Yes, YES!
When I read an article, an essay, a book (ANYthing), the first two things I want to know are:
1. What's the point?
2. Why is it important?

Leanne Dyck said...

Exactly, Laurie. And if the answer isn't supplied in the first sentence, I'm gone--even if there's gold farther down the page.