Oh, this is a fun one, my fellow creatives.
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:
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Seriously, this first chapter was a delight to read. I mean, with an opener like this, how could it not be?
Vera Wong Zhuzhu, age sixty, is a pig, but she really should have been born a rooster. We are, of course, referring to Chinese horoscopes. Vera Wong is a human woman, thank you very much, but roosters have nothing on her.
If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.
Even though this chapter is exposition, we as readers can still see the unfussable Vera Wong launch herself into her morning routine. While this may not sound very interesting for a hook, the narrator’s lighthearted, playful tone mixed with Vera’s eccentric personality hook readers into loving this old lady very quickly. Plus, using the exposition helps us realize that this morning routine isn’t unique or special to the narrative–rather, this is how she always is, from texting her son at 4:31am to tell him he should be awake, to counting every one of her 3,112 steps on her morning walk.
Yet even this first chapter is not without its emotional weight, for that same morning walk takes her by the tai chi group her husband, long passed, used to attend. In fact, the chapter ends with Vera, while resolute and determined to continue her day as normal, cannot completely silence her sadness over the dwindling relationship with her son since her husband passed. It’s an artfully done first chapter, full of humor and uniqueness with an emotional tug at the end…all disguised in an elderly lady’s morning routine.
No matter what the season brings, keep reading!
Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!