Please welcome guest blogger Rosalie Lario
I spend a lot of time thinking about story beginnings. I mean, A LOT. It only makes sense. Just listen to any agent talk about how they handle submissions, and you’ll know they reject the vast majority of them after reading the first couple of pages. Just the first few pages! Think of your own selection process as a reader, and it becomes even clearer how important the first pages of a story are.
Here’s what I do when I wander a bookstore looking to discover a new author. I’ll look for an eye-catching cover, read the back cover blurb, and then open the book to read the excerpt and the first page. If it intrigues me enough to keep reading, I do. If I’m still interested after the first few pages, I’ll take it home. But that’s all the time I’ll give a story, too: two to three pages!
So if story beginnings are so very important, what can an author do to ensure she gets read? Well, you’ve got to hook your readers. Hard. You’ve got to make them care so much what happens next that they absolutely have to take the book home.
Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over time for engaging your readers:
Create empathy for your character. People are innately empathetic creatures (especially women, who make up the majority of readers). Put your protagonist into a life-threatening situation (Jeaniene Frost’s Halfway to the Grave), or one where she’s being bullied (Courtney Milan’s Unlocked) or feeling tremendously out of place (Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight), and your readers will want to root for her. They’ll want to read on to make sure she not only makes it through, but thrives despite all obstacles.
Make your protagonist likeable. We all want to connect with someone, and if your readers can connect with your character, they will have a vested interest in learning what happens next.
If you can’t make your protagonist likeable, make him or her funny. Who doesn’t love humor? I love a character who isn’t afraid to joke, especially if the purpose is to dispel the tension in a bad situation.
If your hero is doing something reprehensible, make it clear there’s a good reason for it. My current release, Blood of the Demon, starts with the hero knocking the heroine out. But as we quickly learn, he’s got a damn good reason to (potentially saving the world).
As a reader browsing through a book for the first time, what makes you absolutely have to read on?
Rosalie Lario double majored in Anthropology and Classics as an undergraduate student. She briefly considered becoming an archaeologist before realizing they don't actually live the life of Indiana Jones. So what was a classical geek armed with a lot of useless knowledge to do? Become a lawyer, of course!
After attending law school in Florida, she practiced real estate law for several years before finally admitting to herself that negotiating contracts wasn’t nearly as fun as dreaming up stories. As an avid reader of romances, she knew that was what she wanted to write. She never imagined all the mythology she'd learned throughout her undergraduate education might actually come in handy, but it makes perfect fodder for the paranormal romance stories she now dreams up.
When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son in their home state of Florida, as well as searching out things that go bump in the night. She still hasn’t found any proof of the supernatural, but she's keeping her fingers crossed. If that ever does happen, it remains to be seen whether she’ll jump around in excitement, or run screaming in terror (but she's betting on the latter)!
BLOOD OF THE DEMON is a paranormal romance, her first book in the DEMONS OF INFERNUM series, released by Entangled Publishing in August 2011. MARK OF THE SYLPH, Rosalie’s second novel in the series, releases in September 2011.
Find out more at at Rosalie’s website www.rosalielario.com.
Keegan lives to exact revenge on the evil demon who sired and abused him. When his father devises a plan to bring on the apocalypse, he and his three half-brothers, interdimensional bounty hunters for the Elden Council, are charged with capturing and delivering their father for punishment.
Art gallery owner Brynn Meyers has no idea that her ability to read memories embedded in objects and drain people of their life force means she has demon ancestry. Unfortunately for Brynn, she’s also the key to raising an ancient zombie army, which puts her on every demon’s Most Wanted List.
And no one wants her more than Keegan’s father.
Keegan must protect Brynn from his father by any means necessary, but he’ll have to learn to harness the other half of his genetics—the far deadlier, uncontrollable half—when he starts to fall for the one woman standing between him and the vengeance he so desperately seeks. The one woman he’ll never be able to resist.