Monday, May 18, 2015

“Tips for Introducing Characters in Ways that will Hook Readers”


Janet here. I’m excited to announce a definite title for my next release The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption, LIH, January 2016. The title fits the story perfectly. I’m hoping for a rugged unshaven hero on the cover resembling Nate Sergeant. Of course, if the pretty heroine Carly or her adorable seven-year-old son Henry should join Nate, that will work great, too!
For writers to hook readers immediately, we need to create relatable characters who are knee deep in unanticipated change that threatens or distresses them, propelling them to act. Those actions start a chain reaction of events, the plot. 
Editors know what readers want. Love Inspired editors want the hero and heroine together on the page as soon as possible. In recent years I've also seen that they want both points of view pretty quickly, too. No time to dillydally.
The first meeting of the hero and heroine is sometimes called the set up or the Cute Meet, though whether that first meeting is cute or not, depends on the story you have to tell. 
Some stories don’t open with the hero and heroine meeting immediately. A few paragraphs, even a few pages, may focus on one character, but when the hero and heroine meet, make it matter, make it exciting, make readers care and want to spend time with these people as they journey toward their happy ending.
Let’s zoom in the lens to look at the opening pages when the hero and heroine meet. How can we introduce the characters in ways that will hook readers?

·         Start with the point of view character’s goal. Strong goals are interesting. Strong goals reveal a lot about the character. Strong goals produce action.

In the opening of Courting Miss Adelaide, milliner Adelaide Crum faces the committee of four men who will decide if she gets her goal of rearing an orphan. The interview shows the times, the attitude of the men involved—reminds me of Missy’s subtext post—and an intriguing peek at editor Charles Graves that hints a romance is possible. This scene sets up the entire book. Adelaide never gives up her desire to be a mother, but as she grows and changes throughout the story, she wants more, a voice in town, a voice for women. If you want to read an opening with the goal as the hook, go here.
·         Start with the hero and heroine in conflict. Strong goals and/or motivations create conflict in and between characters. 


In the opening of Courting the Doctor’s Daughter widow Mary Graves confronts Luke Jacobs about the validity of his remedy. Sparks fly as these two go toe to toe in a scene that reveals Mary’s motivation. If you want to read an opening with strong conflict between the hero and heroine in the opening pages, go here.

·         Start with humor. Spunky characters sometimes use humor to mask pain and fear.

In The Substitute Bride, I open the story with Elizabeth Manning fleeing her father’s home before he can marry her off to the rich old codger who promised to pay Mr. Manning’s gambling debts in exchange for his daughter's hand. In the train station, Elizabeth switches places with a mail order bride with cold feet. The humor hopefully hooks readers and makes them eager to see what will happen when this gutsy heroine collides with widower Ted Logan. To read an excerpt go here.
·         Start with a dilemma or danger. Suspense authors often start with a heroine in danger. The rest of us may start with a dilemma that makes readers care.

In Wanted: A Family pregnant widow Callie Mitchell’s in a pickle. Her house is practically falling down, endangering her and her goal of providing a home for unwed mothers. When stranger Jacob Smith shows up offering to restore her old Victorian in exchange for room and board, Callie doesn't trust him, but the strong motivation for her goal overrides her reservations. To read an opening that begins with a dilemma, go here.  

·         Start with a shared past. A shared past that looked promising or was painful makes this meeting all the more interesting.  
In “Last Minute Bride” in the anthology of Brides of the West, An Inconvenient Match and The Bride Wore Spurs, the heroes and heroines knew each other before the story starts. Their pasts cause conflict between them that influence their behavior now. To read excerpts of each story, click on the title.
  • Start by giving the reader the sense of impending trouble.
In The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption, my January release, the book opens with Carly Richards standing at the grave of her dead husband Max. Though she looks like a grieving widow, Carly's relieved Max is dead. She vows to run her seamstress shop and take care of her young son, as she’s always done. The scene ends like this:

     “…She’d been a fool to hitch herself to Max Richards. She’d never trust a man again.
     Never.
     Carly grasped Henry’s hand, then with one last glance at the grave, at the overall-clad men already covering the casket with shovelfuls of dirt, she stepped away from her past.”
                                 
You don’t believe she’ll never trust a man again, do you? Is it even possible to step away from one's past? These few lines foreshadow the possibility of trouble ahead. Carly thinks she’s experienced change with the death of her abusive husband, but more change is headed her way.  

Which brings up an interesting point. When do you start the book? Before the trouble starts? During the trouble? Or right after the trouble?

All can work.
  
In The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption I start the book before the trouble starts. 
Let’s chat about openings, what you like and what you don't, as we sip coffee or tea and nibble on fruit, scones and apple fritters.


Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

114 comments:

CatMom said...

Excellent post, Janet - - thank you.
And I am SO EXCITED that you've got another LIH book coming out this winter - YAY!! I'll be eagerly waiting to purchase and add to my Janet Dean collection. :)
My WIP begins right before the trouble starts. Reading your post made me think back to my previous two manuscripts and their beginnings. You also offered some great suggestions.
Yummy - your apple fritters are delicious!
Thank you again for sharing, and CONGRATULATIONS on your upcoming book!
Hugs, Patti Jo :)

Terri said...

Hi Janet, since I'm targeting LIS my books tend to start smack dab in the middle of trouble. My poor heroines are lucky to still be alive. ;-)

Thanks for the fruit and scones!

Tina Radcliffe said...

What I think we all do as beginning writers is fail to leave the h or h in their POV long enough for the reader to get attached or HOOKED on them.

Once we start doing this we have made great strides in our writing.

Starting at the trouble..hmmm, must work on that one.

Terrific post, Janet.

cathyann40 said...

I love your books and can't wait to read another.

Courtney Ballinger said...

The beginning pages are so important (along with the rest of the book, but you know what I mean) that I always rewrite with a critical eye. Got to have that hook.
Thanks for these tips!

Dora Hiers said...

Great post, Janet, and I love your examples, especially The Bounty Hunter's Redemption! Congratulations!

I like to give readers an insight into my hero and heroine before trouble comes knocking. :)

Laney4 said...

No matter what type of opening you have, if the words themselves don't grip me, I'm outta there! In other words, sometimes it isn't what you say but how you say it.
I have enjoyed all of those beginnings, but I have also NOT enjoyed all of those beginnings. Again, it depends on the author's words....
I really enjoyed this post. Made total sense to me and I am looking forward to all the responses (as I try to learn something new every day!). Thank you!

Laura Pol said...

Thanks so much for sharing! I just started writing a book and I hadn't thought about my character's goals. Plan to a good sit down session and think about it. Thanks! :)

Liz Flaherty said...

Can't wait for the new book, Janet. Excellent post.

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Patti Jo! Great job on hooking readers with imminent trouble!

Wishing you all the best, if you plan to make changes in the openings of previous manuscripts.

Thanks bunches for your enthusiasm for my release. You've put a huge smile on my face. But, then you do that often for countless others. You're our southern cheerleader. I'm blessed to know you.

Hugs, Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Terri. I can tell you're having fun scaring your heroines half to death. :-) Good for you! Smack dab in the middle of trouble is perfect for LIS.

Janet

Jackie said...

Hi Janet,

I've been excited since Saturday to read your post. Great job!

I'm targeting LIS, and I keep rewriting the first pages to start at the most exciting moment. Juggling that with meeting the hero AND showing enough for the reader to care is quite a challenge. The beginning is always my biggest challenge.

Thanks so much for sharing today!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Tina, Thanks for the excellent point! Trouble won't hook readers unless they care about our story people. Whichever way we choose to bring characters onstage, we need to reveal who they are and what they want in ways that make readers care.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Cathy Ann,

Thank you! I'm excited about the release of The Bounty Hunter's Redemption. I hope you'll love Nate and Carly as much as I do.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Courtney,

You make a great point. When we revise, we need to look at our words with a critical eye. Otherwise we'll miss what needs fixing. Miss opportunities to hook the reader.

I think you change your name. Congratulations!!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Dora,

You're right on! I like to think of the opening as a recipe. The ingredients are a cup of character with a sprinkle of back story, and the grated zest of trouble. We writers get to play with this recipe, putting ourselves on the page, to create an opening that makes readers want more.

Janet

Connie Queen said...

The opening is the most fun part, and sometimes it's the only thing I know about the story when I get started.

The story I'm working on now had a prologue that I cut, but several more things need changing now. Some things just don't have the same punch as back story.

Loraine Nunley said...

Thanks for the great tips Janet. I am going to look back at some of my WIP to see what I can put into place.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Laney4,

Wow, your comment adds an important point to my post! Word choice is very important. The reason writers revise and revise. Our voice has a huge impact on readers. By voice I mean word choice, style, the heart we put into our story. We must make our words dance on the page.

Janet

Jill Weatherholt said...

Congratulations on your latest book, Janet!
I love excitement on the first page and if the hero/heroine are together on that page, all the better.
In my WIP, they are together but she's unconscious.

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Laura Pol,

Congratulations on starting your first book! Wishing you the best with it.

Our characters' strong goals make them act, bring them into conflict and move the story along. If you want to read more about goals there's several posts in the archives on the topic of Goals, Motivations--the reason for the goals--and Conflict--the result of pursuing goals. Then there's always Deb Dixon's excellent book on the subject.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Liz,

Thanks! Appreciate your support!

Any advice from your experiences
of introducing characters?

Janet

Cindy Regnier said...

Thank you Janet - Great post and great suggestions. Starting at the trouble is the right way to go. Mary C is an expert at that but I know how hard it can be to figure out how to do that. Thanks for the tips and Janet - your characters are always wonderful! Can't wait for the next Janet Dean book!

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Jackie. The opening is a challenge. Actually the entire book is for me. LOL Seems like we dare not let down our guard when crafting story. But, you're so right. if the opening doesn't hook readers, the book won't get read. And sold!

The beginnings for characters in jeopardy are even trickier. Perhaps Debby will have some tips to add to my post.

Janet

Tracey Hagwood said...

Janet,
You are so right! That opening chapter sets the tempo for the book and gives the reader an idea of what to expect throughout. From my readers POV this is a "make or break" moment.

I'm looking forward to your new book out this Jan. Love the premise and the name Nate too.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Connie,

Back story does carry a big punch with the power to hook the reader, especially when we sprinkle it in, in interesting ways. If you're looking for ways to slip the prologue into your story, you might want to check the archives. I wrote a post on back story and suspect I'm not the only one.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Loraine,

Sometimes looking at the openings of our older manuscripts and revising them is a great teacher. Have fun with it!

Janet

Marianne Barkman said...

Janet, I'm looking forward to January already! What a bright spot..thanks for the post and heads up on The Bounty Hunter!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jill,

Your opening sounds exciting! I'm sure writing an unconscious heroine is challenging, but will create empathy in readers.

Janet

Tracey Hagwood said...

@Tina,
What do you mean you must work on starting at the trouble? Lol, not so. Your great at it. In you new Safe in the Firearms Arms, you have a fireman responding to a fire set accidentally by Ms. Fix-it. Perfect start to draw the reader in with a little trouble, set the story in motion and keep the pages turning. Loved it and already reviewed it!

Mary Hicks said...

Janet, thanks for sharing the fun and interesting examples from the pages . . .

Often in the book stores I look at the first page only. After doing this in eight to ten books, you really see the pattern that you speak of. :-)

And still my H and H meet on page four. I couldn't get them together sooner . . . sigh.

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Cindy. Mary is an expert at gripping openings and takes readers on a fun ride!

Thanks for your sweet words about my books. Hope you will love Nate and Carly. Oh, and Carly's son Henry. Honestly my story people become family. LOL

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Tracey. You've nailed it. The opening is a "make or break" moment that writers dare not take lightly. Do you have a favorite type of opening?

Janet

kaybee said...

An educational post, Janet. You definitely practice what you preach. I am learning to try to invest readers in my characters earlier and earlier. Investment is key, especially if we want readers to read beyond the first few pages or editors/agents to want to read beyond the partial.
KB

kaybee said...

Like image of opening as recipe.
KB

Janet Dean said...

Hi Marianne. Thank you. Was fun writing a bounty hunter, a tough guy driven to pursue a killer. Not my usual hero. :-)

Janet

kaybee said...

Current WIP, Julia discovers the daughter she thought died at birth is alive in New York City and being raised by the girl's father, who threw Julia out when he found out she was pregnant. NOW he needs her help because the child has been kidnapped by a mobster who wants Charlie to get out of his territory. So Julia, who is now a Christian, has to dive back into the world she knew before to get the child she hadn't known existed. I have the "bones" of a plot, but I need to make people connect emotionally with Julia. Good advice, Janet.
Kathy Bailey

Janet Dean said...

Tracey, thanks for the fabulous review of Tina's book! Can't wait to join her knee-deep-in-trouble characters!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Mary H! Great idea to read the opening pages of several books of your targeted publisher!

You've looked at ways to get them together sooner and couldn't. Some stories start where they start. :-)

Janet

Jeanne T said...

What a fun post, Janet. I love your ideas for hooking a reader in quickly. I've discovered I like when you have characters who have a shared past that brings conflict into the present.

Tracey Hagwood said...

Janet,
In response to your question, I don't really have a type of opening I favor over another. I'm like Mary in that I read the first page or two and something has to grab me and make me want to know more. While reading, I visualize the scenes and if they're intriguing, it propels me forward :)

Myra Johnson said...

Great examples, Janet! This is a crash course in effective opening scenes of a romance novel. Believe me, I'm taking notes!

Missy Tippens said...

Wow, Janet! Your books have covered just about every possible way to start a book! :) Great post discussing all those ways.

I like to start right before the trouble hits. But sometimes it hits almost immediately--which is about like starting right in the middle of the trouble. My most recent, The Doctor's Second Chance, starts in the middle of the trouble--which worsens when my hero has to go ask the heroine for help. :)

Janet Dean said...

Kathy, you're exactly right. If readers aren't invested early on, they toss the book aside. Congrats on your willingness to learn.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Wow, Kathy, your book starts with powerful hooks, a big bang secret and a child in jeopardy! Plus, the internal struggle of working with the man who threw her out when she needed him most. You can sprinkle in the pain of Julia's past to make readers bond to this vulnerable heroine.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jeanne T. Shared pasts that ended on conflict are great hooks for readers and are even vital when writing the shorter novella.

Have you written a hero and heroine with a shared past?

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Tracey, thanks for sharing. Good to know that different styles of openings work if the story question hooks you and makes you worry about the characters.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Myra,

I'm honored that you're taking notes, my multi-published friend. But isn't it true that we never stop learning. Never stop seeking aids for crafting stories that will touch hearts.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Missy. I think it's fun to start with the trouble, especially when the trouble is so relatable to the reader. I sure related to your hero's predicament!

Janet

Jane Heitman Healy said...

Thanks for these great tips. They would work for all kinds of writing, fiction or non-fiction. This post is a keeper, Janet! Congratulations on your new release!

Jackie Smith said...

Congrats on your newest, Janet! I can't wait to meet Nate & Carly! Count me in for the A card, please!

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

Wonderful post!

In fact, what I like in an opening is what you do in your books and what you just described here.

I particularly like it when the heroine has suffered (or is about to suffer) an injustice and the hero (vicariously me) jumps in and rescues her. Of course, I want the heroine to be sympathetic and well deserving of the help and love that she receives. Now that's Adelaide: she is strong, independent, and still in need of help. She is my favorite.

Now in the doctor book, the heroine unjustly accuses the hero of wrong doing to drive him out of the town. It is a rare book that makes the heroine the source of the injustice. That was very creative and refreshingly enjoyable.

So happy you have a new book coming out. I always look forward to your books as case studies in how to write great prose.

Vince

Meghan Carver said...

Good morning, Janet! Love this post...so many choices that it's difficult to decide. Since I write suspense, I usually start with the heroine in danger. I don't like too much danger, though, without revealing a little bit about the hero and the heroine so that readers will care about them. It's a delicate balance.

Library Lady said...

Janet Here.
I enjoyed reading your post very much. Without a great opening that hooks the reader in there is no need to finish reading the book.
Janet E.
von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jane. I hadn't even thought about how to hook readers with non-fiction. Glad this was helpful. What are you working on now?

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jackie, all those who comment are in the mix for the Amazon gift card, unless they tell me they don't want to win.

Thanks for your interest in Nate and Carly. It's not every day that a small town seamstress gets entangled with a bounty hunter. :-)

Janet

Mary Connealy said...

I love this, Janet. It's so spot on. If you're writing a romance, get the heroine and hero together in a way that makes the reader fall in love with them.

Not that easy to do but essential

Janet Dean said...

Hi Vince, a white knight intent on saving the heroine from injustice makes for sigh-worthy romance. Might need to write another story with that premise. Often my heroes are the source of the trouble. Not black knights, but men with a goal that clashes with the heroine's.

Hope the next book's prose lives up to your expectations!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Meghan, you are so right! Suspense requires walking the balance beam of characterization vs. danger/plot. Add in romance and faith and you have a lot of threads to weave together. Go you!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Janet E, your words are so true, yet chilling for writers. Our stories must provide compelling reasons to keep readers turning pages. This gig isn't for the faint of heart.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Mary, you're a master at showing characterization in the midst of disaster/danger. The thoughts and dialogue of your characters are packed with humor without watering down the stakes. That's tricky. Any tips?

Janet

Sherida Stewart said...

Janet, I read your post early this morning while I was treadmilling....and ideas have been spinning in my head ever since. My WIP opening, which has been revised MANY times, is still not right. When I first read your post, my question to you was...is it bad to use a contrived first-page meeting...one that doesn't really add to the story? I was thinking the heroine could have a medical issue that the EMT-trained hero could help with. But my heroine didn't have a medical issue....until I saw how I could ADD a medical issue, which can explain her childhood and her desire to do the safe thing. Thank you for inspiring this better direction for my story and for giving me a reason to have the characters meet on the first page. YAY!

Another question: Is it preferred that the heroine be the opening POV character? When can the hero's POV be the opening?

How fun for you to anticipate your new cover....which will be beautiful, I'm sure. Congratulations on this new book!

Donna said...

Janet, this is one of my favorite subjects! So many possibilities. I can't pick a favorite! Showing the character's goal from the get go is a great tip.

I appreciate the example of Courting Miss Adelaide. Such a great way to set the reader in the characters world. It is also one of my favorite books! Congratulations on The Bounty Hunter's Redemption!

Lyndee H said...

HI Janet,
Great post. The opening of the book can be a killer, just like a weak back of the book blurb. If I have to work too hard to figure things out, I put the book down and I'm guessing I'm not alone.

Recently I wrote a contemporary and mid-way through I realized my opening scene was on page seventy-two! I didn't let that stop me. I continued writing to The End and I will go back and pull that scene forward during edits. Love when that happens!

It was also a pantser victory, as the original, somewhat trite opening had been plotted - not my desired writing method. The new scene transforms the H/H's relationship right out of the box. My internal pantser is trying not to gloat.

Debby Giusti said...

Always love your blogs, Janet! Great tips. Thanks so much!
Hugs!

Becky Dempsey said...

Thank you for the examples of introducing characters. I am working on expanding my scenes to let you get to know the characters better.

Please put me in for the drawing.

Pam Hillman said...

Good stuff, Janet! In my current wip, I start with an explosion on a ship. :)

Then it gets worse! lol

Janet Dean said...

Hi Sherida, I'm thrilled that you've found that new beginning that gets the hero and heroine together early without making their meeting contrived. So proud of you!!

In answer to your question, we start with the character whose story it is. For me that's usually the heroine.

However, I started a story I plan to indie publish in the hero's point of view because when I started the story in the heroine's POV, the hero's actions seem mean. So I showed him in action and let the reader sit in his head to understand why he acts as he does when he confronts the heroine.

Mary C started Out of Control in Rafe's POV. If she comes back, we'll ask her why.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Donna, thank you!

Goals reveal a lot about a character, and often hints at a troubled past. However a story starts makes me happy as long as I'm intrigued.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Lyndee Panster, gloat away! Obviously you aren't meant to plot. I'm impressed you spotted where the story actually starts and will begin there once you revise. Surprised you can wait that long! LOL I'm doomed to edit as I go.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Debby. Thanks bunches! Hope one day you will post on the specifics of starting a suspense.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Becky,

Good that you're enriching the opening so readers can bond with your characters.

You're in the drawing.

Janet

DebH said...

hi Janet
thanks for the post tips. i'm currently revising when/how my heroine and hero first meet. I'll be looking back here as I go.

I love all the stuff I learn here at Seekerville.

p.s.
HUGE CONGRATS
to the Blurb2Book peeps moving forward. was busy over the weekend and didn't get a chance to put my "hoorays!" in. very excited to see how all do!!!

Janet Dean said...

Good afternoon, Pam. Even land locked as I am, an explosion on a ship took me places I didn't want to go! If that's just the start of the trouble, I need Dramamine. Fast!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Deb H. Hope the post helps you revise your characters' first meeting. Isn't bringing them together fun?

Janet

Keli Gwyn said...

So many great tips, Janet! Thanks.

Congratulations on your upcoming release! It sounds like a wonderful story.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Keli,

Thanks! January seems a long time to wait. :-)

Janet

Caryl Kane said...

Hey Janet! Congratulations on your upcoming release! As a reader the opening pages are very crucial! Have a fantastic day!

Heidi Robbins said...

Great insights! As a reader it really is so important for me to connect with the characters early on- it makes me invested in their story.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Caryl, thank you! And thanks for stopping by today.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good afternoon Heidi. Thanks to you, and other readers today, for the reminder that a hooky opening won't hold your attention unless you care about the characters. A perfect Segway to Winnie Griggs's Thursday post on characterization.

Janet

Valri said...

Janet, you know I love your books and your post is one of the reasons why! You can hook a reader so well! As a big reader of so many books, I look for authors who "hook me" right away! They turn out to be my favorite authors! Thanks for the post! Looking forward to your new book - YAY!!!

Sandy Smith said...

Thanks for this post, Janet. I need to work much more on hooking the reader with my characters in the opening of my book. I will find your advice helpful. Please enter me for the Amazon card!

Chill N said...

JANET, I prefer books that start before the trouble/action/conflict starts. I appreciate knowing what the regular world is like so I can then understand fully what is changing or threatening the character's sense of how things should be.

The conflict scene you mentioned between Mary Graves and Luke Jacobs in Courting the Doctor’s Daughter is a delight to read. I've read it several times studying how and why it works :-)

Congratulations on the new release! I have to learn speed reading so I can catch up with all the Seeker releases :-)

Nancy C

Janet Dean said...

Hi Valri, you've made my day with your lovely comment! Thanks!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Sandy,

There's a learning curve to crafting stories, that's for sure. Wishing you all the best with your openings!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Nancy C, I think opening the story before the trouble starts, helps writers bond readers to the characters. But we dare not wait long. Readers are eager to get to the conflict. Probably because of the busy lives they lead.

I am with you when it comes to keeping up with Seeker books! Speed reading would be great. Ah, so would speed writing. LOL So not me.

Janet

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Janet, I love your beginning scenes. You always hook me right in. Great writing and wonderful tips. Thanks a bunch.

Bettie said...

Congrats on the new book. I really enjoyed checking out your linked examples....very inspiring to future writing. Please put me in the drawing.

Mary Curry said...

Congrats on the new book, Janet. This was a great post. I love the way you always set out such useful information in a really accessible manner. Thanks!

Natalie Monk said...

Hi, Janet! So many great ideas for starting a story! I have a feeling I'm going to be coming back to this one again and again. Thanks for these tips!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Sandra,

You're an encourager!

Thanks!
Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Bettie,

Glad you enjoyed the excerpts!

You're in the drawing, no matter what comment you leave. Though I've got to say, your sweet words inspire me.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good evening, Mary. Thanks!

I'm excited to have a new release. Hoping to get a book indie pubbed, too.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Natalie,

You're welcome. Hope the tips are helpful.

Janet

Melissa Jagears said...

I find that I am A TON MORE impatient as a writer for the first bit to grab me than ever when I was just a reader.

Yet, I don't need the cute meet to be really quick though, if I picked up a romance, I'm sure I'm getting that, by chapter 3 they should be together though I should have seen them both before then, but then I's sure a category's reading audience might be more impatient in that regard....but definitely dilemma conflict! Taking too long to set up the "world before the conflict" kills it for me now. :(

Edwina said...

Janet, really great post!

I like books that immediately start with the trouble. Nothing like a good fight or a major conflict to get the blood flowing!
Please enter my name in the drawing!

Blessings!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Melissa,

I love stories that grab me from the first lines. And like you, I don't like to wait long for the conflict. Would you call us impatient? :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Edwina,

Isn't it great that stories get our blood flowing? And take us away? So much easier than living all that angst in the real world.

Janet

Sarah Claucherty said...

Janet,

"Story people become family "--what a great way to put it! I'm yet unpublished, but whenever I work on a story--or read one!--all those characters join the legion in my head and get pulled out once in a while when I work on that story again or reread one. It's like a village in there! ;)

I like openings that start in the midst of the action, whether that be conflict, family interaction, just after something momentous has happened, just before something happens, etc. It's especially interesting for me when it's clear that characters have met before; that opens it up to the use of backstory and curiosity-driven readers.

I'd love to be added to the drawing, and I can't wait to read Carly's story!

Julie Lessman said...

JANET!!! Please forgive me, but I was literally traveling on the road ALL DAY YESTERDAY and didn't get home till late, so I behind on reading your wonderful post. BUT ... it was SO worth the wait, especially since this is one of my FAVORITE SUBJECTS!!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE opening lines and scenes, and yours are always wonderful! My favorite is The Substitute Bride because the tension hooked me in BIG TIME!! Couldn't wait to find out why Elizabeth was running!!

I simply canNOT wait to read The Bounty Hunter's Redemption, so BRING IT ON!!

HUGS,
Julie

Janet Dean said...

Hi Sarah, well said! Wishing you the best with releasing the people in your head onto the page!

Janet

Keli Gwyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janet Dean said...

Julie, your arrival is always worth the wait!! Your comments always energize and lift me up. Thanks so much!

Sorry the wait for The Bounty Hunter's Redemption is so long, but the time will probably fly by as life seems to be moving at warp speed!

Janet

Amber Schamel said...

Howdy Seekers!
I haven't been able to stop by the blog in a while, so I'm doing some catch up. :)

Janet, once again you've brought us a great post with simple and easy-to-enact principles. These are great suggestions on how to create a hooking character. Thank you!

Lee Carver said...

My practice has been to start with strong action, usually a danger to the heroine. My agent recently advised me to introduce the characters first so the reader will care when danger to the heroine happens. I made the fix, but still had to start with interesting text. I found it harder, but better.

Rachael Koppendrayer said...

It is definitely fun when the book begins smack in the middle of trouble, so long as it doesn't fall limp a few pages later. But I've also enjoyed books that begin before trouble and after trouble, and those that start in the crisis and flash back "two days earlier" (or some such thing). As others have mentioned, I think the important thing is connecting with the characters right away, and then it doesn't matter as much where it starts.

Olivia said...

Dear Janet,
Thank you for the timely post! I agree with Tina about POV, in an effort to drive my plot forward, the POV's have shifted rapidly. Printing the post for my notebooks and looking at my first novel in revision and the first page of the newest WIP. Congrats on the new book! Put my name in the cat dish for the gift card..did you realize how many books you can store on a Kindle?

The Artist Librarian said...

Hmm ... I think my current read, an Amish romance, falls under heroine/hero conflict with the guy trying to get his mother to retire from her store, which would affect the heroine who is part-owner of the establishment. =)

Thanks for the chance to win!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Amber, so good to see you! Thanks for stopping by.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Lee,

I often find that harder is better. Wish it were not so. :-) Sounds like you have a savvy agent. Congrats on the fix!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Racheal, We've got to create characters readers can identify with and worry about. Otherwise trouble might be appealing, instead of disastrous. :-0

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Olivia, sounds like you're working hard. Go you!

I have no idea. How many books can I store on a Kindle?

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Artist Librarian, I can feel the conflict between the h/h from here. :-)

Janet