M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Openings -- Deciding Whether To-Read or Not-to-Read

Which book do you pick up from your To-Read-Pile? You don't have one? Either you have more time than I do or you're obsessive on finishing what you start or some other reason.

Doubt if you don't read. You wouldn't be here if you didn't.

At the moment, I've about six books "in process". I've started them and stopped somewhere between the covers. I've put the bookmark in them ... and gone on to other things. Sometimes, it's even embarrassing. Like when I abandoned a book by Simon R. Green for Richard Castle's Frozen Heat. Gads ... the Frozen Heat author isn't even real and is probably a committee! Yet I dropped a bunch of competently written books to read it ... in two days, all 400+ pages. I think the opening lured me into the mystery.

"Oh, yeah, that's it, Rook," said Nikki Heat. "That's what I want. Just like that." A trickle of sweat rolled down his neck to his heaving chest. He groaned and bit down on his tongue. "Don't stop yet. Keep it going. Yes. ..."

What do you think is going on there? Some hot and heavy sex scene? Actually, it's a rehab session as Rook works to gain back muscle-strength after getting shot at the end of the last book. Of course, the scene segues into a homicide case that is directly linked to Heat's mother's death. The plots in the Heat books mirror the tv show. What ever. The scene hooks, and the "Castle team" keep the action moving without any info-dumps until Heat discovers her initials carved into the suitcase wheels ... a suitcase which contains a frozen body.

Not all openings are bait and switches like the above. This time I'll give an example from There Be Demons ... which my editor/publisher at Grumpy Dragon loved: 

"Vetis, a prince of demons, burst through the portal connecting Gehennathh to the city of Trebridge. His magnificence blazed brighter than the setting sun. The narrow gate, stretched by his bulk and wide horns, closed with a tired sigh. He rubbed his sore neck as he surveyed his new foothold on the human world." 

So what makes a good opening, besides knowing after the fact that you and others got hooked? 

My opinion is that it's action. Both example have description. Both introduce characters. But both are contained within the action. Guess that's the summary of "show, don't tell" or the screenplay paradigm of novel writing.

Rating: Four Stars. I found Frozen Heat a nice read, but it's not a "keeper". 


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Am experiencing something new. Publisher edits on There Be Dragons. The submission process has been slow, probably complicated by finding an artist for Pat, the Pet, but the project is finally progressing. Contract's signed ... and change requests made, including one that I need kill someone to raise the stakes for my Gargoyle Posse. -- Explanation: That makes the book a definite YA even though my main characters are freshmen.

[The editor didn't think I should call my kids the "Gargoyle Gang", either, when one of my gargoyles was named Gang. Don't look at me. I didn't even notice it until my nose was rubbed in it. Don't know if I like "posse" or "crew" better. Anyone got any comments?]

The surprise is I'm enjoying reading the manuscript instead of cringing. The fact that the editorial comments are easy to change helps.

Oh ... Did anyone notice I cleaned up my sidebar on the blog? Need to go in and make changes on my websites too. -- Hopefully, next weekend.

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