Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Would You Read On? by Diana Flegal


At the recently held Montrose Christian Writers conference in Montrose, Pennsylvania I conducted a workshop titled First Pages. Twenty plus courageous writers brought their first pages in both Fiction and Non fiction pieces. Their WIP. Work in Progress.

I read them and then we commented on whether we would have read on. Several passed the test, leaving us wanting to know more. They had 'hooked' us. Others made us groan. It was one of my all time favorite workshops I have participated in and got me thinking. Would you read on after reading these first sentences?


Keep in mind; First pages are usually double spaced but for this blog it has been modified.

Example #1
I’d just ordered a large pizza the evening our apartment building burned down. Monday, it was. The night before Christmas. Pepperoni with extra cheese. Becky Nance, a girl in my ninth-grade health class, says cheese will give you zits but I figure what the heck. It was my birthday, not hers. Besides, it’s not like Becky is gonna ask me to be her escort to our winter dance. Not with my pigeon-toed feet, lanky arms, and bony shoulders.
So I ordered my pizza and went outside to meet the delivery guy.
Mom was on her way to Graceland. She’s a short-haul truck driver. Her dispatcher had phoned that morning to say there was a load of video games that needed to be delivered to a big-box department store in Memphis. She had a ten hour drive ahead of her on an interstate covered in snow. Mom left a note saying she was sorry about missing Christmas and all, but it couldn’t be helped. We needed the money. She promised to swing by the King’s mansion and pick up a snow globe from the gift shop.
I hate Elvis. Mom knows this. But I collect shakers and she knows that, too.
Here’s the thing. If Elvis has left the building, like they say, then why’s he still singing the blues about Christmas? Anyway, I figure Mom had just pulled up to the loading dock of the department store when the fire reached her bedroom. Good thing I’d walked outside to meet the pizza driver. ‘Course if I’d known our apartment was about to get torched I would have grabbed some stuff. Pictures, trophies, Mom’s jewelry box. My seizure medication.

Stay tuned for First Pages each week. If the author wishes to remain anonymous you will be left in suspense but if they are courageous, we will let you know if their book is in print.

Have a great summer day,
Diana

17 comments:

Sharon A. Lavy said...

I'd love to have some examples.

Diana said...

My apologies, I am having trouble with Blogger today :-(
Please tune in tomorrow...

Sharon A. Lavy said...

No problem =)

Jeanette Levellie said...

Ahahhaa! I thought you meant the first sentences of your post. Obviously, we read on...

Now I'm curious! I'll be you just SAID you're having trouble with Blogger to hook us, Diana. Good one!

Hugs,
Jen

Linda Glaz said...

This is good, Diana. And so true. We only have a couple pages to get someone's attention.

Terry Burns said...

Good subject Diana - people hear that the first page of a manuscript has to force the editor, agent, or ultimately the reader to turn the page and that they have to be invested in the story to keep reading by page 10. But many do not realize how few words they have to accomplish this. Since all chapters must begin half way down the page (I use line 16) and must be double spaced, that hook has to come very quickly.

Davalyn Spencer said...

This is a great idea. I'm looking forward to seeing more First Pages.

Katherine Hyde said...

I would read on. This page has voice and a number of points of tension to hook us into the story. It could use a little tightening and smoothing here and there, but this author clearly knows how to write.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

Ah, Blogger gave you back your post.

Love this author's voice. I would read on.

Robin Bayne said...

Yes, unique voice. Would keep reading : )

Lee Abbott said...

How fun, Diana. I admire the participants' courage.

Example #1: There are several intriguing threads which could either lead to a great story or a hopeless tangle. I'd read a few more pages.

marshahubler said...

I sat in that class for a while at Montrose. Everyone really enjoyed the "scrutiny" of some writers' works, even the writers themselves. Diana, you handled the class with grace blended with your expertise.
Marsha

Jeanette Levellie said...

Yes, I would read on. Just as I was bogging down in details, she hooked me again with the Mom's bedroom burning. I like her style and voice.

Valerie Comer said...

I'll be the dissenting voice. I don't think I'd keep reading UNLESS someone I trusted had told me I needed to read this book (or author.)

Sharon A. Lavy said...

Valerie, I didn't commit to reading the whole book, I just said I would turn the page. Then I would decide again if I would turn the next page!

Millie Samuelson said...

I wouldn't read on, unless it was a book club discussion book. I was bothered that I couldn't quite tell if it was a girl or boy narrator (there were hints both ways), and that some of the story just seemed too improbable. . . BTW, I was having a great time at Disney World when this was posted. And I'm just now catching up online, so maybe my view of "things" still hasn't returned to normal. . . :-)

Lisa Lickel said...

As soon as I read the first sentence I knew the book - and it's really, really worth it to read on. One of my favs and very much looking forward to the sequel.

But it does help to read the back cover in any book you pick up. The front cover of this one also rocks.