Sunday, January 19, 2014



Ah, the meandering descriptions of the past. La la la, the breeze, the sky, the birds, the rippling brook. The sky was blue, the sky was cloudy, perhaps it would rain, it was a dark and stormy night. The family was impoverished, the family was wealthy and now impoverished, her dress was . . . you get the idea. Yawn.

If you read the classics or even many popular novels from the mid-20th century, you notice that usually considerable opening time is spent building the world. Descriptions of scenery, mood, and time period may be lengthy. Authors of old sometimes used pages to set up the book and characters. Personally, I like these wandering set ups, but will most of today’s readers tolerate them? No, no, no!

Today’s reader is too busy for such lengthy niceties. Television, cell phones, and the internet have taught us to expect instant gratification. We are busy, busy, busy! Most of us live at a hectic pace with little time to spare for relaxation. Grab us from the start with action and/or dialog or we close the book (or e-reader) and move on. So, today I’m talking about the importance of first lines. Here are three from  my published books:

“Sonofabitch! The bastards are burying me!”
Nate Bartholomew braced against the coffin sides and grappled the terror that pumped through him.

Do these lines draw the reader into the story for answers? I certainly hope so. Why is Nate in a coffin? Why is he being buried alive? I wanted to raise questions to tantalize the reader to keep reading. Does it work? I have to admit writing that activated my claustrophobia.

From THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, available from Amazon at, at Smashwords at,  and other online stores and in the boxed set NINE WAYS TO FALL IN LOVE:

Dallas McClintock sprawled on the ground, three rifle barrels pointed at his chest. He reckoned his luck had run out, but damned if he knew why.

Again, I wanted to raise questions in the reader’s mind that he or she would insist on answering by continuing to read the story. Why had Dallas’ luck run out? Why was he on the ground? Who pointed rifles at him and why? Are you intrigued enough to keep reading? Again, I hope so.


and singly from Smashwords at 
and in Audio Book from, Amazon, and iTunes.

One question whirled through Hope Montoya’s mind: Who wants me dead?

Without a question to be answered, there is no reason for us as readers to continue unless we know the author and want to support a friend. If the first paragraph is dry and boring, we decide the rest of the book will follow that pattern, even though sometimes that’s incorrect. Occasionally a book gets off to a slow start, but becomes interesting later.

Who will read long enough to find out? Perhaps a reviewer, but not you or me. As the saying goes, “So many books, so little time.” And for most of us, our time is too precious to waste, isn’t it?

For this reason, first lines are the key to the rest of the book. They set the tone. Will this be an adventure, mystery, frightening ghost story, or searing romance? As you can tell from the lines above, my romances always include some form of mayhem. We live vicariously through the characters in books. Don’t we need an exciting time?

For my other releases, please see my author page on Amazon at

Happy reading. And I hope you’ll include my books in your reading.

Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

Ruby said...

I love your first lines. They are a great exercise for writers on how to open a book. Good job.