BITE FIRST! –Ask Questions Later

Your novel must open with bite.

One doesn’t hook a voracious reader, one creates a voracious reader by stimulating appetite.

I can tell you, as an avid reader, that I–so badly–want to be invited in. I crave an invitation that cannot be refused.
That opening must build appetite and by appetite I mean, the desire to read –felt as hunger. Appetite exists in all bibliophiles, and serves to regulate adequate literary intake to maintain creativity, imagination, and contentment.
Once you’ve stimulated that appetite, your reader wants to sit down at your table and devour your book. They’re hungry and they need to eat.

How do you stimulate appetite? Well, as a reader, I want — nay, I need something to grab my attention. If it’s properly presented the reader won’t just skim across it — their pupils should grow as they soak it in. You need a statement of unusual or vivid fact, a compelling question, a simple scene exhibited in a profound manner, an enticing or inciting mood setter.

Rather than using, Once upon a time, or It was a sunny day in July– take a look through American Book Review’s top 100 list to get some inspiration.

Good luck, but know this–
Once you’re happy with your opening, you will move on and through your story before coming back to the opening –of which you will undoubtedly change–and then again, three or sixteen more times.

Rest assured that once your opening line is solid, readers will notice, but –don’t leave it at that. Once the prey is drawn to the bait, you still need for them to bite, so make sure the whole opening scene is enticing.
–I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

You’ll know when you’ve got it right, but then –maybe your beta reader(s) will have a different idea.
Either way, have fun! That’s why we read and write –for the pleasure, so enjoy it.


16 thoughts on “BITE FIRST! –Ask Questions Later

  1. Oh yes, you are so right. Thanks for the reminder. I need to pin this up next to my computer as I begin my third book. Hook ’em, hook ’em, hook ’em.
    Nice to meet you here – thanks so much for stopping by at my roughwighting site.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So true. If you don’t capture my attention in the first few pages, you have lost me as a reader. Before it use to be the first opening lines but I have grown. Sometimes the opening sentence might not be the best but in the end the book was great.

    This is why feedback is so important.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Tycobbs Teeth! It couldn’t have been better said. You said it so well; so beautifully and I am impressed. You are simply amazing. Your post is captivating and inspiring.Knowledge like this should be applied immediately; and that is what I must do in my very next post. I hope you check to see how well the student has applied the knowledge gained from the teacher. I can already say with confidence you are a great teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally agree. First lines are like a handshake. If yours is like a wet, limp noodle, I’m snapping the cover shut and tossing you aside. I need grip. And grip equals promise.
    Many thanks for the great link too. A corker of a list. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First line – and last line, too. I read both when deciding if I want to get into a book. If you like those two lines, as a reader, you are practically guaranteed to like the book. If you don’t like either one of them, you will probably not like the book.
      As for using cliches, it can work. Spider Robinson began ‘Time Pressure’ with “It was a dark and stormy night,” and proceeded to deliver one of my favorite sci-fi novels of all time. Robinson was a big fan of Robert Heinlein, who began ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ with “Once upon a time, there was a Martian named Michael Valentine Smith.”

      Liked by 1 person

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