The first page had me laughing out loud, folks. We’ve got a promising one here!
As writers, we hear all the time that we’ve got to hook readers in just the first few pages or else. We’ve got to hook agents in the first few pages or else.
Whether you’re looking to get published or just hoping to hook your reader, first impressions are vital. Compelling opening scenes are the key to catching an agent or editor’s attention, and are crucial for keeping your reader engaged.jEFF GERKE, THE FIRST FIFTY PAGES
Well then, let’s study those first few pages in other people’s stories, shall we?
Today I snagged from the New Release shelf:
Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn
Deanna Raybourn’s Killers of a Certain Age certainly needs no prologue to hook readers.
If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.
Instead, her opening chapter starts with the protagonists preparing for their first mission–not only as stewardesses, but as assassins, too. I mean, when the third and fourth sentences of the novel are “It’s not murder,” Helen corrects. “It’s an assassination, and you can make an effort to look nice.”, you as a reader know you’re in for a fun time.
The opening scene introduces us to a group of women new to this “life of lies” as they prepare for their first mission under their supervisors posing as airline pilots. The dialogue drags a smidge on the fourth page, but there’s enough personality in the exchange that we as readers are okay with the slow preparation, as we are learning to differentiate the character traits of the team. Plus, a brief reflection by one of the women helps remind readers just how much is at stake: not just the mission, but the lives of everyone on the mission, too. The use of movie lines during the exchange also helps emphasize the timeframe we are dealing with, as this first chapter is, essentially, a flashback to the protagonists’ first mission in 1979. The majority of the story is to take place in the present day when all these female assassins are older. For one who loved the movies Red, Harry Brown, Sea Wolves, and yes, Arsenic and Old Lace, I’m really excited to see what time does to these ladies–and what happens to those foolish enough to underestimate them.
No matter what the season brings, keep reading!
Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!