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13 April 2011

Hook, Line or Stinker?

Authors and readers agree, those first words of a book are of vital importance. Some allow several chapters to convince them, others—no more than a few paragraphs.

Authors feel the weight of this responsibility as they sit down to pen those first lines. At least they should!

The older I get, the pickier I become about which novels I finish. I realized this last month, when I started a book and was struck by the lack of white space—those gaps between paragraphs. More white space = more dialogue. I flipped through the first chapter, then the book, and when I found massive paragraphs dominating the pages, I tossed it in my “donate to library” pile. Apparently, I like dialogue--so much, that a lack of it made me close the book before finishing the first page.

I used to feel compunction over setting aside a book that didn’t hold my attention.  Now, my free time is more scarce and thus, more valuable. When I only have an hour a day to enjoy a book, I want it to be a good one. I want to be swept away to a foreign land or time. I want to be kept there until The End forces me home.

The more I read, the more I define which styles of writing I enjoy and which I don’t.  This process is shorter and shorter every year, which means books have less time to grab my attention.

I’m curious. How much weight do you, dear reader, put into the first pages of a book? Do you feel obligated to finish it once you’ve started?

Below, you’ll find a survey that will remain open for at least the next two weeks. Let’s have some fun!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.
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Carrie L. Lewis said... Wednesday, 13 April, 2011

Love the survey. I wish there had been a place to leave a comment, because I would have said that I read the back cover blurb first and sometimes that's it. The book goes back on the shelf.

So the real test is on the back cover and the real challenge is for the author (or whoever is writing the back cover blurb) to write one that arrests my attention enough to make me open the book. Most of the time, if I open a book, I read it.

Unknown said... Wednesday, 13 April, 2011

Hi Carrie! I added a comment box. Good idea! Those back cover blurbs are so important aren't they? The cover is too. I almost did a survey about which attracted a readers more: cover image, back cover, 1st chapter. Then I remembered our focus is on those first words of the book, so I redirected. Maybe next month during our Back Cover Blurbs Clashes!
Thanks for stopping by!

Christine Lindsay said... Thursday, 14 April, 2011

Really enjoyed that poll.

Item Reviewed: Hook, Line or Stinker? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: April Gardner