My guest on “Chatting with Chase” this month was Leigh Michaels, author of 75+ romance books and ON WRITING ROMANCE, her recent release from Writer’s Digest Books. (You can catch her interview here if you missed it). During the interview, Leigh read opening paragraphs that had been submitted prior to the show and critiqued them on the air.
Well, since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about openings. And my struggle with my to-be-revised-for-the-hundredth-time opening to RUNNING AWAY has provided me with … what, class? … Right! Yet another procrastination opportunity. For now, I must stop working on my book and go comb my personal romance library for other author’s books that contain openings that I like.
Here are some of the favorites I’ve (re-)discovered ….
“How can you tell it’s a scrotum?” Reggie turned the page sideways, then a full 180 degrees, then back to what she assumed was the original orientation. – Delicious, by Jami Alden
This immediately grabbed my attention, making me wonder why Reggie can’t tell it’s a scrotum from whatever she’s looking at, why she’s looking at it to begin with, and where the story’s going to go from here.
One moment he was a faceless stranger standing on a Mexican street corner; the next he was opening the passenger side door and sliding into the rented orange Volkswagon Rabbit beside her. – Wild Orchids, by Karen Robards
Need I say more? Who wouldn’t be hooked, wanting to read on to see what this stranger is going to do to the heroine? Ms. Robards has led me to suspect an adventure will follow (and it does).
AN ENORMOUS .357 MAGNUM, AIMED POINT-BLANK BETWEEN her eyes – that was Gus Featherstone’s first clue that something had gone awry with her plans. The second was the black ski mask the gunman wore and the terrifying glint in his dark eyes. Apparently she should have been more specific when she arranged to have herself kidnapped. – Blush, by Suzanne Forster
Similar to Wild Orchids, I’ve got another potential ‘kidnap’ tale here. (Oh goody!) But not only am I thrown into the midst of the action, Ms. Forster has given me the premise for the whole book in that last sentence. And since it’s such a unique premise, I can’t wait to read on.
The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today, have I seen a head in a roasting pan. But here are forty of them, one per pan, resting face-up on what looks to be a small pet-food bowl … - Stiff, by Mary Roach
I was hooked on Stiff from the back cover blurb but when I started reading this paragraph, I knew I had to buy the book. As if a book on dead bodies and what happens to them wasn’t compelling enough, after reading this, I knew I wasn’t going to get a clinical discussion or a bunch of mundane facts.
A woman didn’t have to stand on the corner to become a prostitute. All women at some point in their lives have exchanged pussy for goods and services. The best tricksters could barter for homes, cars, diamonds, furs, and enough cash to maintain a five-figure bank account. The unsophisticated females, oblivious to how much men would pay to bust a nut or have their dicks sucked, were happy with a movie, a meal, and a few lies about how much the man loved her … – Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This, by Mary B. Morrison
Whoa. This is real, raw. What has made this woman become so jaded? I’m ready to read on to find out. And then, when I realize it’s a guy thinking this, I’m doubly intrigued.
So, I’ve shared a few of my favorites. Comments? Thoughts? What’s your favorite opening paragraph from a book?