• http://www.workinonaramp.com Jenny

    Saw you on Josh’s site. Great guest post – I talked to an Australian guy for about two days once and I swore afterward I was going to run away there and get married. Only problem, flights are a tad expensive. One can still hope though, right? Anyway, I agree for spacing out if I’m not hooked instantly. Maybe I’m too used to reading in blog format, or maybe it’s the fact that I’m usually surrounded by shelves and shelves of shiny, exciting looking books for relatively similar prices? Ehhh. Who knows! Looking forward to reading more though.

    • http://writeitsideways.com suzannah

      Thanks for dropping by, Jenny. Beware those Australian men… they’ll get ya every time ;)
      As for the hook thing–I think I get easily bored as a holdover from my days as an English Lit student. Being forced to read enormous novels, whether they interested you or not, can become not so pleasurable at times. Maybe now that I don’t have to read anything I don’t want, I can’t be bothered with a slow start.
      .-= Read suzannah´s last article ..6 Ways to Hook Your Readers from the Very First Line =-.

  • Pingback: uberVU - social comments()

  • http://scribblessplashes.blogspot.com/ Southpaw

    Great post. From one of my favorite books…
    “He was ten years old and an alien in an unfriendly land, made an unwilling exile by this mother’s marriage to a Marcher border lord.”

    Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

    • http://writeitsideways.com suzannah

      Thanks Southpaw,

      Haven’t heard of that one. Sounds like Fantasy, I’m assuming?

  • http://janebenimble.com Lori

    Hi Suzannah!
    How’s life? I’ve really been enjoying your posts here – and you’re so amazing to do all this while also being a new mother. Awesome!

    I liked this post because this topic has actually been nagging at me. I feel like I don’t want to waste even a second on a ‘bad read’ so when the author doesn’t pull me in right away – I get annoyed and wonder why he or she is wasting my time. Then I often put the book down, permanently.

    Your points are great and I think you’ve hit on the most important issues.

    On that note, have you seen the site http://www.sfgate.com/columns/grabbers/? It’s actually a column in the San Francisco chronicle about the first lines of books! I go there often just to enjoy what has been featured. :)

    Take care!

    • http://writeitsideways.com suzannah

      Hey Lori,

      Life’s been… well, busy! I haven’t seen that column, but I will definitely check it out. Sounds great! I know what you mean about feeling like you’re wasting time on slow starts. Life’s too short to intentional bore ourselves, right? Thanks :)

  • http://www.terireeswang.blogspot.com/ TERI REES WANG

    I bought the book “Hooked” by Les Edgerton just to follow through on this thought.
    Lately, I have been opening to the first page of every book I own to find out just what tagged my attention the first time around.

    > – Cannery Row by John Steinbeck 1945 : Cannery row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.
    > The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber 2002: Watch your step.

    • http://writeitsideways.com suzannah


      I do that too–opening to the first page of books to see how they start. The library is a good spot for that, as well. Thanks for your examples!

  • http://scott-awritersblog.blogspot.com/ Scott

    Clicked over here from Nathan’s blog. I love your blog.

    I just finished reading Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden – fabulous book! The concept alone hooked me.

    I’m like you, if not hooked – normally – in the first page, I’m not likely to buy a book. The one exception is Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana. It took me three years to do it, but finally made it past the first chapter (no, it’s not that bad, I think it was just me) and the book is one of my all time favorites. I read it every few years.

    Okay, off to delve further into your site!


    • http://writeitsideways.com suzannah

      Hi Scott,

      Thanks for coming over from Nathan’s site, and for your comments. I haven’t read “The Forgotten Garden” yet–just waiting for it to become available at my local library. The only books I find I can persevere with (if they start slowly) are the classics, or even certain modern books that are written in a more classic style. “Atonement” startsslowly, but I loved the writing enough to continue with it.

      Cheers :)

  • Rebecca

    Such great tips, Suzannah. Thanks so much. I joined the herd coming from Nathan’s site. Yay! So glad he mentioned your blog.

    • http://writeitsideways.com suzannah


      I’m so glad he mentioned my site, too! :)

      Thanks for coming over, and I hope you find some useful hints here.

  • http://dfmil09.wordpress.com Tricia

    Of all your examples, I gotta admit that flying from England to the US about a toilet had me most intrigued. I must now go fetch the book to settle my curiosity.
    .-= Read Tricia´s last article ..Be happy with what you’ve got and other principles of screwing up your dreams =-.

    • http://writeitsideways.com suzannah

      Yes, I’m waiting for that one to come available at my library. It has me intrigued as well! Or, if you’re really impatient, you can check out the rest of the first chapter on Amazon. Thanks!

  • http://www.margaretadams.co.uk Margaret Adams

    Just found your blog.

    Lots of interesting articles.

    An excellent resource.

    • http://writeitsideways.com suzannah

      Thanks, Margaret! Glad you found me.

  • http://susanwoodring.blogspot.com Susan Woodring

    Great post! Great blog! I just discovered Write it Sideways–I’m adding a link to my blog.

  • http://witzl.blogspot.com/ MaryWitzl

    It’s so true that introducing too many characters too fast overwhelms readers; it’s much better to slip them in gradually, once the main protagonists have had the chance to hook them. And finding a long-winded description on the first page makes me want to go get another book.
    .-= Read MaryWitzl´s last article ..Test Terror =-.

  • http://brazilbrat.blogspot.com/ James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    “If they’d been any good, I’d be dead.” The first sentence in an action/adventure novel I hope to sell. I know it’s not “The great American novel” but most of those are gathering dust in a drawer somewhere. I just wanted to write something that’s entertaining for the reader and might make a little money for the publisher and myself.

    I hope those goals are not mutually exclusive. ;)
    .-= Read James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil´s last article ..The iPad Fail =-.

  • http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com/ Martina Boone

    Another fantastic post! I like to collect passages I come across that really thrill me, and after reading this I realized that many of them are the first paragraphs in the book. You’ve inspired me to add a new collection to the blog–fantastic openers!
    .-= Read Martina Boone´s last article ..Pre-Submission Checklist =-.

  • http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com/ Martina Boone

    Just added an openings section to our blog with credit back to Write It Sideways for the inspiration. Thanks so much! Oh, and anyone who has a favorite kidlit opening is welcome to contribute!
    .-= Read Martina Boone´s last article ..Pre-Submission Checklist =-.

  • http://susanfieldswriter.blogspot.com Susan Fields

    Fantastic article – thanks so much! I came over her from Stina Lindenblatt’s Cool Links Friday, and I’m so glad I did. I’m about to start reading Hooked and possibly redoing my opening chapter.

  • http://writeforyourlife.net Iain Broome

    All great advice. I have a thing about opening paragraphs and agree totally that they play in an important role in whether someone wants to read on or not. Especially people browsing in bookshops!

  • Pingback: NaNoWriMo: Quick Preparation Tips and Resources()

Back to top
mobile desktop