Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thinking The Good Beginning

Eons ago I went to a writing workshop with a focus on what makes an interesting beginning to a novel.  Back then, I still typed stories on an electric typewriter.  I remember the intense discussion among the participants along the lines of should a writer start her novel with action or with dialogue – which would be more effective in drawing in the reader?

I got nothing out of the debate, but I did take away a snippet offered by the workshop's presenter.   She said editors were busy people, with a lot of submissions coming across their desk.  If they weren’t hooked by the third page, they would put the manuscript down and go on to the next one.
While that fragment has always stuck in my mind, my own personal feeling (as both a reader and a writer), is that the heroine and hero must be introduced, preferably come in contact with each other, within those first three pages. 
I would love to hear your philosophy on a good novel beginning. 

In the meantime, here's the the beginning of Magic Moment, to be released by Crimson Romance on October 1st (

                                                              Chapter One

“Laura. Laura Roberts.” The deep, detached voice came from behind her.
Laura swiveled on the round, brown vinyl-covered stool, meeting the hard eyes and two dour faces. Her last name was Roberts, but she didn’t reply, didn’t even nod. Neither man looked familiar. Who were they?

“Special Agent Ross Saunders, FBI,” the grimmer of the two said, waving a badge and I.D. before her eyes.

She stared at the men. FBI?

Sanders tucked the folder inside his jacket pocket. “This is Special Agent Ed Phillips,” he said with a quick nod to the man standing to his left. “We’d like to ask you some questions. Come with us please.”

Laura had seen the two men enter the diner. Identical navy suits, both appeared to be in their forties, graying crew cuts, and equally sour expressions. Although not the customary Rita’s Diner patrons, or Food Mall clientele for that matter, Laura had turned her attention back to her iced tea without giving them a second thought. Now they stood in front of her, flashing badges and identification cards too quickly to read, let alone give her time to note if the picture matched the face.

“FBI? There must be some mistake.” She offered with a polite smile. “I’m Laura Roberts, but I doubt you’re looking for me.”

Saunders’ brow crinkled. “Laura Ann Roberts?”

Ann had been her mother’s name. Laura’s cordial manner disappeared and anxiety crawled through her. “Yes.”

Saunders pushed the glass out of her reach.

“What — ”

He grasped her fingers. “You’re the one. Come with us.”

Laura yanked from his grip. The other agent cupped her elbow, sliding her off the stool.

       “Miss Roberts, don’t make a scene,” Saunders whispered. “Come with us. It will only take a few minutes.”

       Laura glanced around the nearly filled-to-capacity diner. The customers, although employed by different proprietors, worked in the Food Mall. Those who hadn’t been gawking, suddenly stopped their conversations and meals to take notice. This was a popular lunch hour, and she was now the afternoon’s gossip.

      “Laura, everything okay?”

       She recognized the male voice and managed to stifle her plaintive groan. Could this calamity get any worse?

      Chase Donovan had joined the fracas. Dressed in jeans and a black leather jacket, he was tall and athletic, in his mid-thirties, with a wavy mixture of light, nearly blond, and medium brown hair.

     He was also her boss’s son.

     A bewildered expression covered Chase’s handsome, chiseled features. He stood so close that as Laura jerked from Phillips’s hold, her elbow nearly whacked Chase in the stomach.

     Saunders identified himself to Chase. “We need Miss Roberts at headquarters to answer a few questions.”

     “I’d like to see some I.D,” Chase said firmly.

      Saunders arched a dark, hairy eyebrow. “And you are?”

     “Chase Donovan.” He rested a hand lightly on her shoulder. Laura stiffened at his touch, unaccustomed to Chase putting a hand on her, even if in a protective manner.


  1. Great post, Angela! And I loved the snippet from your book. I'd have to say for me, I always tend to lean toward action in the start of my novels, or some type of mystery to keep readers turning the page. But I find as time goes on I'm experimenting with openings more and more. It probably depends on the book. ;)

  2. Hi, Mary,

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog...and, again for my "computer insight."

  3. Hi Angela! First of all, congrats on your acceptance with CR! I enjoyed your post. I don't necessarily always have my H/H meet in the first 3 pages, but I do try to do it in the first 2 chapters. I enjoyed your excerpt and wish you much success! :)

  4. Hi, Misty,

    Thanks a bunch for stopping over, leaving a comment, and most of all for your good wishes.

  5. I like this and look forward to reading it in full. Excellent beginning for the book.