Thursday, February 19, 2009

The first few pages

I was at Chapter’s yesterday browsing in the teen section when I overheard a clerk helping a lady. She gave the customer a book then said it was excellent read, you just needed to get past the first twenty pages.

As a writer that’s something I wouldn’t want to hear.

I know it’s true as I have many books on my bookshelf that I had to force my way through the first 20-40 pages before the story got interesting. One book I had to try several times before getting past the beginning. I mostly did it at the very strong encouragement of my sister-in-laws.

Which begs the question how important are the first pages of your book. On Kirsten Nelson’s blog she revealed that she was the secret judge in a contest that looked at only the first page of a book. I found the winners very interesting, some were completely intriguing, others I found I had to read a couple of times to understand what the story was about, but that could just be old age. Take a read and let me know what you think.

Now here’s my first page:

It was after school on a Tuesday afternoon when Dagny arrived at the grocery store with her mom. The sun was shining in the sky but dark clouds loomed to the west threatening to block the rarely seen light. She spotted Dora Jonson first, a middle aged woman, who was a little bit too short and a little bit too fat, walking out of the grocery store carrying one bag of food. Her brown hair with graying roots was tied up into a tight bun and her stunted legs were shuffling across the parking lot to meet two other ladies, Klara Johansen and Fanney Hardvardson. Together they were known as the biggest gossips in town and their favourite topic was Dagny’s mom, Hildy. This was due to the fact that Hildy could see the future, which would have been okay except that all she ever saw for people was misery. Not once did she have a vision of someone winning the lottery or falling in love. It was always accidents, mishaps and death. Dagny knew that her mother tried to keep them to herself but it was surprising how many people wanted to know about the bad things that were going to happen to them.

Dagny walked with her mom towards the door of the grocery store hoping the three ladies wouldn’t notice them. They were only a few feet away from the front door when a loud outcry from across the parking lot caused them to stop and turn around.

“Hildy Olson, how dare you!” Klara Johansen was marching towards them with her blonde streaked hair swinging behind her. Dora and Fanney flanked her sides, their short legs struggling to keep up with Klara’s long stride.

1 comment:

jessie said...

"Together they were known as the biggest gossips in town and their favourite topic was Dagny’s mom, Hildy. This was due to the fact that Hildy could see the future, which would have been okay except that all she ever saw for people was misery."

This is where I was "hooked." I really liked it. I would even find a way to put this in even sooner before setting up the scene...???