Posts Tagged 'first chapter'

Saturday reading

Yesterday, I read a manuscript I couldn’t put down. It wasn’t an acquisition of mine; it was a draft that a co-worker urged me to read.

It was paranormal, with a romance. It had problems, she said, but she wanted another opinion.

My opinion? The motivations and character arcs were all over the place. Some plot elements were too conveniently tied up. A couple of times, I rolled my eyes at the heroine’s decisions and her reasoning. The secondary characters were underdeveloped.

And yet…

I still found the story compulsively readable. I wanted to know what happened. When I had to put the pages down to take Charlie to a birthday party, I thought about them the entire time.

What would the heroine do? What had happened to the women before her? Who would she love? How would it end?

How could a book with so many problems still have that good-book magic?

I’ve been thinking about it all morning. These are the three things I think made the difference:

1.) The first three chapters were well-written. The characters were interesting, the pacing was just right, the premise was established and there was a hint of suspense. The author set up a few intriguing questions right away, and because those chapters read so smoothly, I really wanted to know the answers. I was, in effect, hooked, and willing to give the author leeway when things went south.

2.) The heroine. She began the story in a very difficult situation and only reluctantly accepted her call to adventure. I empathized with her. I liked her. I wanted to find out how–if–she beat the odds.

3.) The author’s voice. Conversational in a Twilight way, that voice pulled me in. It suited the genre and my expectations, and made me feel like I was hearing the tale from a trusted friend.

This first one isn’t even published, and I wish I had the sequel already.


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I work as an editor at Harlequin, but the posts on this site are all mine and don’t represent my employer's positions, strategies or opinions.
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