Friday, October 11, 2019

Writing: Get The Reader's Attention

I've finished the first draft (including lots of editing along the way) of my next novel, working title Critical Decision. While I wait for a macro edit, I've arranged for a cover and for later a line edit and proof-reading. And I'm kicking around a few openings for my next one.

I try to catch the reader's attention in the first scene, ideally in the first page or two, in order to keep them reading. Of course, I write medical mysteries or thrillers (I've written elsewhere about the difference, although it seems to me to be an artificial distinction), so that doubles the necessity to catch the attention of the person looking at the first page. Here's one I came up with while "doodling" on the computer. What do you think?

The hand holding the pistol was steady as a rock, aiming at her chest. The trigger finger was so tense that the knuckles of that digit were white. There was no chance of missing at this range. One squeeze and it was over.
She reviewed her options and found she had nowhere to go from here. This might be the end. She wondered idly if she’d hear the gunshot that killed her.
“Any final words?”
Then, the cell phone in her pocket began to vibrate. At first, she ignored it, but finally she heaved a sigh, turned from the computer, and pulled the instrument from her pocket. As she feared, the call was from her sister. 
“Patricia, I hope this is important.” Actually, she was glad for the interruption. Maybe a way out of the situation she’d gotten her heroine into would come to her. She was barren of ideas right now. 
“It’s Mom. She’s gone by ambulance to the hospital. They think it may be a heart attack. I’ll meet you there.” And she was gone.


Betti said...

A great beginning!!

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Betti. I'm still letting it "gel" in my mind. Then I'll have to figure out the arc of the story. But this is what we do when we start a story--at least, that's what I do.

Vera Godley said...

OK - I was thinking.... "bloody right from the beginning" and then that twist! (I'm smiling real big right now). Of course, its sad that the call was about her Mom, but....

looking forward to this one

Richard Mabry said...

Well, I got your attention on the first page, didn't I? We'll see how it turns out. Thanks for commenting.

Priscilla Bettis said...

How clever!Fantastic!

I have one small question. I wonder why the protagonist feared a call from her sister. Was their mom terminally ill, and this was THE call? Um, no, because it's a heart attack and also because the protag answered, "This better be important." That's the only part I don't get: why the protag feared the call.

Richard Mabry said...

My thought was that the sister, sort of a flibberty-gibbett (showing my age by using that expression) usually called and wasted 20 minutes or so in useless conversation on a regular basis. Anyway, this was just something I dashed off as possibly the start of a novel. Got your attention on the first page, didn't I? Thanks for your comment.

Priscilla Bettis said...

Oh, I see. I may even know some "flibberty-gibbetts" like that!

Yes, totally caught my attention on the first page!