Grabbing Eyeballs

Ah, the teaser, the hook, the opening scene of a book — whatever you want to call it it is absolutely necessary that you have something that grabs a reader’s eyeballs and brain when they casually flip open your book and skim that first page be it at the bookstore or that online sample of an ebook.  Robert Heinlein is reputed to have said that you have one page to convince a buyer to spend his or her hard earned money on your book rather than a six pack of beer so it better be a great first page.

I’ve been putting cards on the board outlining book four — The Currency of War — for the past week.  The first thing that went up was the final scene that ends the book.  The end of act three as it were.  Then I added in the act outs for acts one and two.  I started filling in the scenes that would have to be there in order to get to those act outs.

But the teaser was eluding me.  I tried one from Mercedes point of view.  Nope, that didn’t work.  I tried Tracy.  Nope.  Then Boho.  Nope.  What kept sticking in my head was a scene with one of the alien characters from book three.  Jahan hadn’t been a view point character, but now it seemed like the right choice.

A choice I really didn’t want to accept because then I have to do a lot of work fleshing out Isanjo culture, family life, politics, etc. etc. and that wasn’t where this series was living.  The idea for IMPERIALS started because I began to wonder about a universe where we humans were the evil invading aliens and it all grew from there so I was keeping the focus on the humans, not the subjugated aliens.  Now Jahan kept knocking at the back of my mind and she finally won the argument. 

Another very pragmatic reason to resist character proliferation is that every time you add another view point character your book gets 100 to 150 pages longer.  If you are going to give that character any heft and meaning you need to spend time with them.  What ultimately made me decide to put Jahan on stage was I saw they way to keep her in the mix past the first opening moves.  And considering what my male protagonist has to accomplish she will be a valuable ally.

So the die is cast and I’ve got the first few pages of book four.  Now back to the word mines.

2 Responses to Grabbing Eyeballs

  • Macm says:

    I always enjoy these glimpses into your writing process. Congratulations on the publication of the new book. I got lucky at Page One and found a copy of the new release of the Wild Cards first edition with signatures from you and several others.

    • Melinda Snodgrass says:

      Craig is great about grabbing all of us to sign books whenever we drift through or he catches us at an event at the Cocteau or Bubonicon. Happy reading.

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