The word cliffhanger came from somewhere you know
I’ve been known to have someone actually hang off a cliff in my books. Not lately though. I may do that again soon.
But in the meantime I like to catch a reader’s attention and HOLD IT!
And I like to do it from the jump. Start the book off with a bang. Hopefully write something that is RIVETING. Something that makes the reader pay attention and keep turning the pages.
So this time, in The Reluctant Warrior, I have my characters wake up choking to death as their cabin fills with smoke. They have been buried (the cabin) by a monster snowstorm…well, there’s more. There’s a killer. There’s fire. There’s freezing. There’s screaming and running and digging and climbing and exploding.
You know, the usual.
But to write a book a story needs to grab hold…and it needs to do it not GRATUITOUSLY but in a way that tells the story, begins it, advances it. You can’t just have a random action scene.
This book, The Reluctant Warrior does not open with gratuitous violence and action. It is completely relevant violence and action! I’m sure you’ll agree.
But I just mention it because as a writer………..and all of us at Petticoats and Pistols know this….it is tricky to start a book. Oddly enough, it’s not uncommon to start a book at the wrong place and have to go back and move the story farther in the future or back into the past. A weird but true fact about writing. Authors get used to that kind of editorial study of their work. Mulling over details to make the story pick up and go at the right pace at the right time and place.
It’s part of the fun of writing, and I can’t help but be glad my book starts right where it does, although I gloss over a couple of months of what must’ve been real trouble in that cabin before the smothering smoke billows into the room while my characters sleep.
Today, let’s talk about stories that start with a bang. Can you think of a book you’ve read (or maybe one you’ve written) that have a beginning you love. Not necessarily first lines, but more general, a beginning that grabbed you and held on and wouldn’t let you go.
Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a copy of The Reluctant Warrior.
Union army officer Cameron Scott is used to being obeyed, but nothing about this journey to Lake Tahoe has gone as expected. He’s come to fetch his daughter and nephew, and seek revenge on the people who killed his brother. Instead he finds himself trapped by a blizzard with two children who are terrified of him and stubborn but beautiful Gwen Harkness, who he worries may be trying to keep the children.
When danger descends on the cabin where they’re huddled, Cam is hurt trying to protect everyone and now finds Gwen caring for him too. He soon realizes why the kids love her so much and wonders if it might be best for him to move on without them. When she sees his broken heart, Gwen decides to help him win back their affection–and in the process he might just win her heart as well.