Mill Park Publishing of Eagle, Idaho was created in 2003 by author Elaine Ambrose.
The company facilitates fee-based book publication and marketing for local authors
and organizes writer's retreats.

Wednesday, 06 July 2011 17:01

Literary Seduction: The First Page as Pick Up Line

Written by  Elaine Ambrose

 “Boris Stuchenko would be dead in less than nineteen minutes. And he had no idea why.”

 The first two sentences of The Ezekiel Option by Joel C. Rosenberg captured my attention, and I was hooked. I read the 413-page book over the weekend, and the contents were as powerful as the opening lines. It’s the kind of book that lingers in thoughts long after the next book is opened.

 "It was a dark and stormy night" is now a cliché for trite first lines, followed by "Once upon a time.” Other notable beginnings that challenge the reader’s intellect include this sentence from the first page of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code:

 “On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly.”

 Just because a book sells millions of copies doesn’t mean it’s well written.

 Studies indicate that readers are attracted to a book by its cover, then they turn it over to read the back, and if they’re still interested, they turn to the first page. All in about eight seconds. As a writer, you should view the first page as a literary seduction, a series of pick up lines to snare the reader. They may not get to your dazzling chapter four if page one is a dud.

 I've been taking a short story class from poet, writer, and film maker Ken Rodgers. He guides us like a wise sage as we discuss various authors and read our own stories. For our last assignment, I wrote this sentence to begin my story:

 "Tara Swanson desperately needed to get across the river but the old man kept shooting at her."

 Then I wrote the story around that scenario. The opening vision prompted the plot, the characters, and the setting. I edited one of the two characters several times, but the main theme remained the same: survival. I didn’t know the ending until I had written over 1,000 words. But, the entire story was driven by the first line, and I, the writer, enjoyed going along for the ride.

 As you begin to write and then edit your work, think of the experience as complicated and daunting but also rewarding. To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it can be the best of times, it can be the worst of times, it can be the winter of despair, or the season of hope.

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 July 2011 17:18

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