As any writer knows, the opening chapter, even the opening paragraph, is a big deal. Check out most any book on Amazon and you’ll find the cover image with a Click Inside banner. From there you can read the first four or five pages, enough for most folks to make the decision to buy or not to buy.
With that in mind, I always send the opening, sometimes as much as the full chapter, to all my trusted readers, anxiously awaiting their critical feedback. My latest effort, the one with the temporary snappy title of Book Five, has been gathering mold on the cyber shelf waiting for yours truly to get fired up and write again. The plot was still in the fetal stage and the opening needed work, a lot of work. And so it was, a few weeks ago on a dreary Sunday morning, that I mixed a mean Bloody Mary, took a breath, and started over.
A thousand words later, I’m going, “Yeah, this will work,” and fired it off to my top Trusted Reader. The reply wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.
“I wouldn’t buy this book.”
Short, sweet, and brutally honest. Hmm.
On further review, I saw the problem. The opening was depressing, a real Debbie Downer. Back to step one. The rewrite was better, even Trusted Reader agreed. Nine-thousand words later, I’m on a roll.
I had a thought for a change of pace. With a yet undeveloped plot for a full length novel, I would feature my old pal, Sheriff Lester P. Morrison, in a short story, or as Amazon Kindle calls it, Short Reads. A search in the Short Reads category was quite surprising, at least to me. By far, the most common covers in the top 100 featured male models, all with tanned and rippled stomachs, some grasping the waists of full-lipped women with bulging breasts.
Looks like I’m going to have to send Sheriff Lester to the gym.