We’ve got another delight here, my friends!
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:
Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson
Now I know Sanderson’s a big name in fantasy writing, but I wasn’t expecting a Jane Austen-style cover for one of his books. Apparently, Tress of the Emerald Sea was to be something for his wife, so its voice, characters, world, etc. are not meant to be connected to anything else he’s written. This is fine, as I’m one of those heathens who’s never read Sanderson. 🙂
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I do hope his other books have such a playful narrative voice! That’s what hooks you in these first few pages, honestly. The first chapter is almost entirely exposition about where protagonist Tress lives: a putrid island where nothing can grow and only salt can save you from the cosmic spores raining from the sky. I was keenly reminded of Tolkien’s asides to readers as I went, though this narrator’s tongue is a bit more, shall we say, barbed: “Ships sailed that dust like ships sail water here, and you should not find that so unusual. How many other planets have you visited? Perhaps they all sail oceans of pollen, and your home is the freakish one.”
We learn more about the world than we do about Tress in this opening chapter, but it’s enough to keep us going. For a girl who insists she’s happy on an island where the government orders the residents to remain until death, she still collects cups decorated with things that can’t survive where she lives. For a girl who does her best to tame her hair and be socially presentable, she never seems to succeed. For a girl with a family name like Glorf (“don’t judge,” says the narrator), she deserves a chance to be more. And hopefully, we’ll read on to see just that.
No matter what the season brings, keep reading!
Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!