A writer is only as good as the first 5 pages. I tell myself that so I remember to catch my audience in the first five pages, but Iuniverse sent me a mock-up book website which previewed the first four pages of my book, “Be Still.” I’ve hyped this book so much to the nurses I work with that I was concerned that it wouldn’t live up to the legend that I created. But two of the nurses read the first four pages, the teaser, and they immediately asked if the rest of the book was just as good. One nurse even said she was ready to cry just at the first page.
I did my job!
Then they asked about my first book, “When I Thought I was Tough,” and so I showed them how to link to it. I was quite surprised when they read a few lines and said they would now have to read that one at home. Yay!
I did my job!
Then they asked what my third book was about so I gave them the elevator pitch. One nurse said it sounded like a tear jerker (that’s my genre as you may recall or are just learning). I told her it would be a year before that one came out. She smiled and said that was too long to wait and I should leave work now and go home to finish the book. I smiled…
I did my job!
What I have learned in writing is that you must captivate your audience (especially a new audience) in the first 5 pages, and I know that is a general rule of writing a book. Captivate, hold, and give the premise of the story in the first five pages. My website mock-up only gave four, but I had fans who were eager to read the rest. I must be doing something right.
I also make the ending of every chapter a mini cliff hanger. The dun dun dun. Or if we are speaking of soap operas, that long, dramatic stare and the thought of what was going to happen in the next episode. In fact, writing a novel is very much like a soap opera. the characters, the story line, the cliff hangers–they all need to be there and need to mesh into something a reader wants to stay awake late at night to finish.
For me, every chapter ends in that cliff hanger. That thought of knowing there is more, but having to move on to the next chapter to find out what it is, only to discover there is still more in the chapter after that. It’s not just enough to have great detail, to have great characters, and to have that great plot. Anyone can tell a story, but not everyone can tell a story well. Three people can tell the exact same story, but we all know that one person who can tell it best and get the audience excited and full of suspense. It is my job to be that story-teller. As a writer, it is your job to be that story-teller that people are eager to read.
Chapters should flow, but I want mine to end at the height of a towering waterfall where jagged rocks are awaiting below. If it ends that way, wouldn’t you want to know what happened next? Go ahead, fill in the blank.