Tuesday, September 30, 2008

EXPERIMENT: The Big H, Report #1

Much is made of opening hook in lectures for aspiring writers eager to learn their craft. "You only get one chance to make a first impression", "Bookstore browsers decide whether to buy based on the first paragraph", etc.

So would a book from a line with less than the average number of full-length novel pages (<300) be more likely to start off with a strong hook, and would it reflect its time period from the get-go?

Gentle Reader - you decide. Try and match each opening the correct epoch :

a. Viking
b. Medieval
c. Tudor
d. Restoration
e. Regency
f. Regency

1. "Leaning one broad shoulder against the wall, H. exchanged an amused glance with E. as they watched the bridegroom pacing in front of the hearth."

2. "Even though it was Witches' Night, the first time the door latch rattled R. was not alarmed."

3. "A. pressed her lips together, trying to keep her head from moving as her maid plaited her hair."

4. "The gale roared like a wild beast. Under its savage attack, the ship creaked and moaned and begged for mercy."

5. "Her quarry was within her sight. M. peered through the tiny peephole, leaning close to the rough wooden wall as she examined the scene below."

6. " 'What's wrong, Father? Is it bad news?' J. asked. Instead of replying, J. continued to stare at the letter in his hand."

Apprentice Writer will confess that she wouldn't be able to place any of these excerpts, except to guess that the quote referring to Witches Night would be from one of the earlier time periods. In terms of hook, she would have to give this round to #4. Fixing hair, leaning on walls, reading letters, house noises and watching others unobserved can't really compete drama-wise with threatening shipwreck and drowning of large numbers of people.

Answers in comments later today.


Julia Smith said...

Can't wait to see how your H experiment pans out, M.

I'll make a stab at this:
1 e
2 d
3 b
4 c
5 a
6 f

I've never been much of a Harlequin reader other than historical. I usually wish there were more secondary characters/more plot.

Wylie Kinson said...

I confess, i can count the number of historicals I've read (in the past 2 decades) on one hand. None-the-less, I can't say no to a challenge!
1 f
2 b
3 e
4 a
5 c
6 d? (this one was impossible to peg)

Thea said...

Off topic--but you've been tagged for a Banned Books Meme at our blog :)

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