Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What's in an opening?


I think one of the things I look for most in a new to me author, when I pick up their book, is the ability to hook me into the story, and then when I’m there, keep me wanting more. Hooks and hangers in every chapter are so important, but it's that all important opening, many authors sweat over.

One of my favorite authors who’s got great hooks, is Jim Butcher, and my personal favorite opening is in his novel, Dead Beat.
But what of my own. I always strive to have engaging openings. Here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order.
Blown Away/Happy Trails:
Happy trail: That sexy little strip of hair that runs from a man’s belly button to his—towel. Jenna stared at the fluffy white barrier that blocked her gaze from traveling any further south. She’d enjoyed the scenic route, visually devoured the hard ridges of his six pack abs and the way the water trickled over his flesh while it took the path of least resistance. She knew she shouldn’t stare. It was inappropriate to ogle the higher-ranking beefcake, but she couldn’t stop. What woman in her right mind would be able to?

This Endris Night/1Night Stand series:
The cold kissed Shiya’s cheeks as the sled raced through the night, gliding across the snow in the Alaskan wilderness. Yeah, she could have arrived like the other guests, by bush plane, but the siren’s call of the icy world had been great, and she needed access to the wilds to put her plan in motion.

It had been too long since she’d last come home. Northern lights danced across the horizon, playing off icicles that gleamed on bent pine boughs—nature’s Christmas trees. Overhead the stars glittered, something she’d rarely seen because of the city lights.
Finding Mercy/A Prepper novel:

If he didn’t know better, he’d think the end of the world had arrived. Will Evans tightened his grip on Bear’s and Sadie’s leashes and tuned in for any cries for help. The fresh smell of rain mixed with the industrial stink of spilled fuel and the ozone from a nearby lightning strike pounded reality home.

Even though they’d merely begun, his bones ached. Fifteen years before, he would’ve torn through the wreckage and pulled out survivors without hesitation. Now, he could only survey the destruction and fight the tears that tugged on his eyes. The scene brought back another time he couldn’t stomach, when he’d seen the Grim Reaper rip a hole between life and death, as he’d done this day.
My Boogie Woogie Bugle Guy/1Night Stand:

Grace lay on her belly, her cheek pressed into the lush grass, staring at a shot-glass of liquid. It sat at the base of her brother’s tombstone, as if someone waited for him to take a drink.

George Daniels, born June 18, 1987, Died August 8, 2011. Hero, Son, Brother.

Whoever left the whiskey, had set it on an ace of spades. Probably one of the Green Berets Geordie had served with. They’d liked to play that game. She smiled, remembering the stories her brother had told her about his downtime while deployed, the heated spades matches, the stomach churning dares to eat creepy crawlers, the roach races, anything to keep them entertained between patrols.

“I miss you.” She sniffed and wiped a tear from her cheek. It had been a year since she’d lost him, and the hole still gaped open, raw, unbearable.

She wouldn’t be off shift for another thirty minutes, but on the anniversary of his death, she hadn’t been able to stay away. She'd needed to talk to him. So, she’d sprawled over his grave in her uniform, getting grass stains on her elbows from the freshly cut lawn, telling him about how much her life sucked without him.

“For my next number, I’m gonna play something a little more laid back.” A slurry voice rang out over the headstones, echoing through what was supposed to be a closed graveyard. A trumpet began to play. Dah, dah, dum. Dah, dah, squawk.

So tell me, what are some of your favorite hooks, the ones you loved writing or reading.

D L Jackson

No comments: