Friday, September 22, 2017

How to Grab a Reader’s Attention from Page 1

In this day and age, writers have to engage readers from the first page. How do we do that?
Curiosity. We must fill a reader’s head with questions. Here is my story opening for Murder at the Moonshine Inn:

If only I could learn to say no, I wouldn’t be perched on a bar stool in a redneck bar, breathing secondhand smoke and pretending to flirt with men sporting baseball caps and Confederate bandanas, their eyes riveted on my Victoria’s Secret-enhanced cleavage. I wouldn’t be tricked out in a bizarre hairstyle, frosted blue eye shadow, painted-on jeans with strategically placed slashes, and a two-sizes-too-small Harley Davidson tank top.

I hit the rewind button on my life and stopped a few days earlier, at the point where Phyllis Ross threw a cup of coffee in Nina Brown’s face. How that led to this undercover assignment—finding out who killed a middle-aged drunken woman in the parking lot of the Moonshine Inn—is quite a tale.


Who is the narrator and why is she investigating a murder? Is she a cop or a private investigator? Unlikely, since she’s clearly reluctant and it’s her difficulty with saying “no” that landed her in a situation that doesn’t thrill her. If only I could learn to say no, I wouldn’t be perched on a barstool in a redneck bar.

So our sleuth, while intrepid, is less than enthused about her assignment. Who convinced her to find the killer of a middle-aged drunken woman? And why ask her? Blackmail? Calling in favors? Or is there a personal connection?

It’s clear that our sleuth doesn’t frequent redneck bars and that her getup is a departure from her usual style. If only I could learn to say no … I wouldn’t be tricked out in a bizarre hairstyle, frosted blue eye shadow, painted-on jeans with strategically placed slashes, and a two-sizes-too-small Harley Davidson tank top.

Maybe she isn’t even a woman. Hmm.

What about the other characters, like the middle-aged drunken woman who met her maker in the Moonshine Inn’s parking lot? Who is she? Who is the coffee-flinging Phyllis Ross? Who is Nina Brown?

Why did Phyllis Ross throw coffee in Nina Brown’s face? And how did the coffee incident precipitate the sleuth’s undercover assignment?

I hope I now have mystery lovers so curious that they’re eager to dive in and learn more about my sleuth and her adventures in Murder at the Moonshine Inn.


7 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Definitely an intriguing opening

Linda Thorne said...

Well done. This would be good on B.K. Stevens blogspot, the First Two Pages. You dissect the first couple of pages of your book kind of like you've done here with the first paragraphs. Bonnie (B.K.) passed a way recently, but it seems her daughter is keeping her blog active (at least for now).

Amy Reade said...

Great post, Maggie. I can attest to the intriguing nature of the opening, having read the book and loved it. You say a lot in those first two paragraphs, but leave so many questions unanswered that the reader has no choice but to turn the page to discover the answers. Well done!

Maggie King said...

Thanks for your kindness, Amy. I enjoy writing openings. Endings are tougher.

Liane Spicer said...

This opening would definitely keep me reading! I'm rooting for the character already and curious about all those unanswered questions. This looks like the sort of juicy mystery that I enjoy.

S.L. Smith said...

Great job! You got my attention.

Carol Mitchell said...

Quite a teaser. I was immediately drawn to her character.