Give Your Book A Powerful Start by Akje Majdanek

Give Your Book A Powerful Start by Akje Majdanek

Never start your story with a dream or an alarm clock buzzing; don’t start with dialogue or an infodump. Yeah, yeah…you’ve heard all the ways you shouldn’t begin a book.

Personally, I think rules are made to be broken. (>‿◠)✌

My first book began with a dream, although the dream turned out to be real. I started the second with dialogue, and that conversation doubled as the ending since it was a time travel story. And my current book starts with an infodump in the form of a newspaper column about the Triangle shirtwaist fire. ʕʘₒʘʔ

But you should never do what I do, since my books don’t sell. (ノД`゚)゚。

So how should you start a book? With a hook, of course! And these days it has to be freaking awesome, considering the competition from millions of other self-published writers out there now.

The first chapter has to draw the reader into the story and make it impossible to stop reading, but really you need to suck them in from the very first SENTENCE.

Back in the good old days of WriteOn, there was a thread where two faux agents would read the first 600 words of your book and give you suggestions for improvement, operating on the premise that a professional agent usually stops reading at about six hundred words. Fact is, most readers today won’t give you even that much. (╥︣﹏᷅╥)

You’ve got to reel them in from the first sentence, so here are some of the most famous first lines in history. Okay, I honestly didn’t like every single book listed here, (yes, Bell Jar and Finnegans Wake, I’m looking at you), but the first lines certainly kept me reading. Maybe they’ll inspire your own hook. Good luck with your writing! (੭*ˊᵕˋ)੭* ̀ˋ

▪ When I was fourteen my family moved into a burning house. – Stations of the Angels, Raymond St. Elmo

▪ I lost an arm on my last trip home. – Kindred, Octavia Butler

▪ I am an invisible man. – Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

▪ I’m pretty much fucked. – The Martian, Andy Weir

▪ A screaming comes across the sky. – Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

▪ It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. – 1984, George Orwell

▪ It was a pleasure to burn. – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

▪ They shoot the white girl first. – Paradise, Toni Morrison

▪ I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. – I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith

▪ All children, except one, grow up. – Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie

▪ They murdered him. – The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier

▪ If you’re going to read this, don’t bother. – Choke, Chuck Palahniuk

▪ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis

▪ It was the day my grandmother exploded. – The Crow Road, Iain M. Banks

▪ Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. – Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

▪ Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu. – Waiting, Ha Jin

▪ The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. – The Go-Between, L. P. Hartley

▪ This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it. – The Princess Bride, William Goldman

▪ Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge. – The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

▪ It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

▪ Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K, for he had done nothing wrong but one morning he was arrested. – The Trial, Franz Kafka

▪ It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. – The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

▪ “Where’s Papa going with that ax?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast. – Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White

▪ As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect. – The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka

▪ Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. – 100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez

▪ riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. – Finnegans Wake, James Joyce

▪ I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974 – Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides

▪ I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany. – A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving

▪ On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide–it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills–the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope. – The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides

▪ Once upon a time, in a far-off land, I was kidnapped by a gang of fearless yet terrified young men with so much impossible hope beating inside their bodies it burned their very skin and strengthened their will right through their bones. – An Untamed State, Roxane Gay


OMP Admin Note:  Akje Majdanek is a writer and OMP Network member.  Akje is a guest blogger for the One Million Project website whose creativity is evidenced in her work.  Akje’s books–Der Reiter and Adeline–are available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Akje_Majdanek/e/B00UZSTW74 


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Juvenilia — by Akje Majdanek

Juvenilia — by Akje Majdanek

Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!

That’s what you’re doing on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else they’ll let you, isn’t it? Sure. It’s what they tell you to do. Write your book during NaNoWriMo in November, edit it in December, publish it in January. Then comes the blog tour, the book signing at the library, the review circle at Goodreads, and then you hammer your followers on social media with book trailers, retweets of 5-star reviews, and anything else you can think of that puts your book in everyone’s face. Again. And again. And again.

Um, you might want to rethink this strategy, for a couple of reasons. First of all, why are you marketing your book to other writers? There are probably few readers in your social networks. Readers generally avoid indie writers for the obvious reason: indies are annoying. They’re always in your face with the Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book! (უ‸ლ)

The proper way to promote is by building your reader tribe with an email list. You do that by giving the reader something in exchange for their email address. For fiction writers, that usually means an exclusive prequel or sequel to your most popular book, but you can offer whatever you please. While Amazon forbids asking readers for email addresses in your books, there’s no reason you can’t link to your website, where you can ask them.

You do have an author website, don’t you? Or at least a blog? Your readers need a central location to find out more about you and your work. As I understand it, Mail Chimp has a free version that helps you collect email addresses. I just use a simple textbox form myself, but you might want to make your site look more fancy and professional.

But never mind that now. We were talking about why you shouldn’t hammer people with your book. What happens if that book starts selling and you become famous? You’re going to have a devil of a time hiding it from the world later. And you’re probably going to want to.

You’ve written four or five books. Wasn’t it Stephen King who said your first million words are crap? Well, someone did. A million words is about a dozen books, so you need to keep writing. The more books you have, the more visible you become on Amazon because of their algorithms. And the more you write, the better you become.

Which is why you shouldn’t be so eager to put your early works on everyone’s bookshelves, especially if you’ve published paperbacks or hardcovers. Paperbacks have a surprising lifespan, and someday you’re going to be embarrassed by your early works. The books you’re so proud of today will be tomorrow’s juvenilia.

Nobel prize contender Haruki Murakami considers his early works “immature” and “flimsy” and regrets that they’ve been translated into English. If he’s ashamed of his early work, then my gawd, what does that mean for the rest of us? (♯ᴖ.ლ)

One of the good things about being an unnoticed author is that you can tweak your books, upload improved versions and no one will ever know. Then in ten years when you become an overnight success, the readers will think you were an unappreciated genius all along, and they’ll slap their heads that they didn’t discover you sooner. Now isn’t that better than dreading that upcoming interview with Oprah because she might ask you about those embarrassing first few books in your oeuvre?  ¯\_(ﭢ)_/¯


OMP Admin Note:  Akje Majdanek is a writer and OMP Network member.  Akje is a guest blogger for the One Million Project website whose creativity is evidenced in her work.  Akje’s books–Der Reiter and Adeline–are available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Akje_Majdanek/e/B00UZSTW74 


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology