Want to break free of your comfort zone? The KickAss Chicks are hosting an online seminar directed toward writers at every stage of their careers. The four-hour seminar on March 2, 2016 will be led by Penny Barber, and Editor with Lyrical Press. She’ll walk us through how to write an opening scene guaranteed to make readers pick up their books. You can find more information here.
We do hope you will join us.
Imagine you’re at a party full of people you’ve never met. Mr. Bookman is working the crowd, going from person to person and introducing himself. He approaches you and strikes up a conversation. The first few words out of his mouth determine if you politely excuse yourself, run for the nearest exit, or are intrigued enough to engage with a possible new friend.
***Remember you’ve never met Mr. Bookman before.***
Let’s say he stalks over and starts railing about his ex, whom you also don’t know. Is that within your comfort zone?
He reveals a lot about himself if he’s nitpicking, name-calling and making fun of the size, features, clothing, and life choices of everyone in attendance who you haven’t had time or opportunity to judge for yourself. Is this a person you want to spend a few hours with?
Mr. Bookman saunters up and shares every detail of how he woke up, showered, and ate breakfast this morning. Do you care what kind of shampoo he uses or how many swipes it took to clean his man bits?
If he stands next to you and thinks aloud, how many minutes will pass before you bolt?
What if he and Ms. Magazine corner you, and without even introducing her or himself to you, they carry on a conversation about people and places you’re unfamiliar with, and a situation you don’t have any context to understand?
Imagine Mr. Bookman looks good, introduces himself, and engages you with an interesting problem. But the longer he talks, the more his rough edges show through. He uses so many words to say anything, that by the end of each sentence, you’ve forgotten the point. Maybe he uses the wrong word often or mispronounces so many words you’re silently correcting him instead of following along. He pauses in awkward spots or has booboos you can’t stop staring at and wondering about more than what he’s saying. How long will you stay engaged if he keeps tossing out words and terms you don’t know?
Friends, relatives, critique groups, and beta readers are wonderful. Some of them can actually be trusted to say, hey, this makes no sense, your heroine is judgmental and hateful, I fell asleep in the middle of the third para, or all those em dashes are distracting me from the story. Many of them, though, are loathe to hurt your feelings or make you mad, don’t speak up when the material just isn’t their cup of tea, or maybe fear retribution when you read their stuff. Or, they simply can’t pinpoint why they aren’t enjoying the read.
Someone who reads for a living can spot flaky pick-up lines by the end of page one, and often in the first para. They may not tell you why they weren’t engaged, but they’ll know. In this workshop, I’m offering to evaluate your first 150 words. I’ll share what first impression your book’s pick up lines made on me and specific reasons if I met it at a bookstore I would pick it up or keep looking.
Without insight into why readers may or may not be picking up your book, you can’t do anything about it. If you know, maybe you can.
But remember I am one imperfect reader, with one opinion. I’m not always right, nor do I always have the perfect solution, but I may be able to point you in a direction that works for your story. And I’m not afraid you might trash my next chapter in the critique queue. *wink*
If you can’t make it the day of the workshop, feel free to post 150 words of your opening up to a week early.