Opening With A “Hit” Single

Inspired, I sensed afterwards, by my grandfather memories that I’d posted in the morning, I spent the day yesterday smashing through the opening chapter to Distances. Although it’s not long (but none of my chapters are really “long”; I dislike “long” chapters), it’s – I believe – on target.

Textured. Sentimental. Sharp.

A new character also zooms in, offering the novel’s very first line.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a piano with music notes.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a piano with music notes.

I see an opening chapter as similar to the first song on an album. It has to grab a reader. It should be sorta like a “hit” single.

But it shouldn’t be better than the rest of the book. What it must do is gently encourage a reader to want to stay with you. Disappointing readers with what comes next invariably and unsurprisingly loses them.

Always in the back of my mind also is that Amazon makes roughly the first 10 percent of the Kindle version available online for potential buyers to read for free. That’s important. Readers can get themselves quite a good taste of a book without making any commitment to it. (And speaking of “commitment,” or perhaps lack thereof as well, that “ten percent” out there in the clear on the web has also led me to be “careful” about the way I write sex in the earliest part of the novels. How Amazon may be subtly influencing what authors do, eh?)

So taking this opener as a whole, it’s just what I wanted. I suppose I shouldn’t be so “happy” having written what is, at times, also sad. Still, you should’ve seen my grin after my last re-read and tinker of the day.

I’d started composing it only a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t done much on it since. In total, from first word to final period yesterday, it probably took me no more than three days to write it.

In comparison, I struggled for weeks trying to get the Frontiers opening chapter as I really wanted it. I re-wrote it completely several times. It was agony to produce.

Happy Thursday! 🙂

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Author: “Conventions: The Garden At Paris,” “Passports,” “Frontiers,” and “Distances.” British Airways frequent flier. Lover of the Catskill Mountains...and the 1700s. New novel of 1797-1805, "Tomorrow The Grace," due out in 2019.