Friday, April 30, 2021

Writing: Getting Their Attention

 I keep a bookcase loaded with books I've already read, and when I re-read them I find lines that I skimmed over the last time. That's why I keep them, that's why I re-read them, and that's why I suggest firmly that a writer should read widely. When I first started writing, I was pointed toward a particular book and told, "Write like that." I couldn't do it, but it was something to aim toward.

There are three points at which a writer should make a reader sit up and take notice: the opening scene (and ideally the opening sentence), a point about half-way through the novel (the remedy to a "sagging middle"), and at the end of the book. It need not be the closing words, but certainly the last paragraph of the book should be memorable that a reader will think about it long after he closes the book.

Of course, it's nice to catch the attention of a potential buyer. And it's good to have something in roughly the middle to keep a reader from throwing the book across the room. But the nicest thing of all is to leave the reader thinking about that last scene, that last paragraph, the last sentence. That's what brings them back.

Your thoughts?


Priscilla Bettis said...

I love a good opening paragraph. I enjoy a clever closing. And I appreciate a well written mirror moment. But I also like lyrical prose, exciting twists mid-scene, and smart chapter openings. Heck, I just like to read.:-)

Richard Mabry said...

Priscilla, you're easily satisfied--may your tribe increase.

Patricia Bradley said...

If your comments had like buttons, I'd like Priscilla's comment. ;-)
Someone said, "The opening sells your present book and the ending sells your next book." Maybe James Scott Bell? Or he quoted it from someone else...
Excellent advice, Richard!

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, I've heard that, too. Maybe we've studied the same places. Anyway, good advice.