Where to begin?

Winter_barbiesnow_copysm From Loretta

      Writing authorities advise us to begin, not at the beginning, but in medias res—in the midst of things.  Thus I–who read Victorian novels for pleasure and wallowed happily in stories whose first chapters were titled “In which I am born”—began Isabella, my first published novel, like this:

“Disappeared?” the earl repeated in a dangerously quiet voice.  “What the devil do you mean, ‘disappeared’?  Seven-year-old girls don’t just vanish.”

      Lord_of_scoundrels_200dpis Several books later, I began, not in medias res, but with a very long prologue in which the hero is conceived, born, and grows to manhood.  That book, Lord of Scoundrels, continues to be popular in spite of all that prologue.

I don’t break rules intentionally.  In fact, given my own reading preferences, I oughtn’t to start a book with a prologue.  But each book seems to have its own beginning, and the writing gods (I imagine them as Egyptian, since that’s one of the places where writing started) tell me what the beginning is going to be.  It’s a matter of staring into space until the first scene starts to play in my brain.  Like a movie. 

Sefekh_lady_of_writing_2 The rest of the book is another matter, another—and sometimes ugly & violent–process.  But the beginning comes from the writing gods. 
      

With rare exceptions (Lord of Scoundrels), this is all these deities offer me.  For all succeeding scenes and chapters they tend to hang around offering no help whatsoever & sometimes heckling.  They say things like, “You dork!” and “Delete! Delete!” and–as her brain said to Laurie Anderson– “Why don’t you get a real job?”
 

Writers Thanks to the cavalier attitude of my writing gods, there’s no making rules these days about how to begin or where to begin—beyond the obvious Start With Something InterestingIsabella started with a missing child.  Lord of Scoundrels started with a nobleman losing his entire family—wife & children—to one of the ghastly diseases that often killed whole families. 

But one of my favorites of my story beginnings is a very quiet one.  It’s just a man looking out of a window.

Egyptian_hall_great_hall_2 Lord Perfect
CHAPTER 1
   
Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, London, September 1821


He leant against the window frame, offering those within the exhibition hall a fine rear view of a long, well- proportioned frame, expensively garbed.  He seemed to have his arms folded and his attention upon the window, though the thick glass could show him no more than a blurred image of Piccadilly.
     Belzoni_exhib_2  It was clear in any case that the exhibition within–of the marvels Giovanni Belzoni had discovered in Egypt–had failed to hold his interest.
      The woman surreptitiously studying him decided he would make the perfect model of the bored aristocrat.
      Supremely assured.  Perfectly poised.  Immaculately dressed.  Tall.  Dark.
      He turned his head, presenting the expected patrician profile.
      It wasn’t what she expected.
      She couldn’t breathe.
      
      

Belzoninarrwk (For more excerpts from Chapter 1, visit here.  The bearded fellow standing here is Giovanni Belzoni, the explorer who unearthed the marvels shown in the exhibition my hero seems so bored with.  If you'd like to see & learn more,  here's a good quality colored image of the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly–and here's the tomb Belzoni recreated in London.)

      
Sometimes people disappear, sometimes they die, sometimes they’re doing reckless and dangerous things (Mr Impossible, Your Scandalous Ways), and sometimes they just stand there.  There's no one way to begin.  There simply has to be something in the scene that makes me want to go on with the story.  Then I figure I’m on the right track, and that same “wanting to go on” will keep the reader turning pages.

  Lady_spitsBut I know that readers have likes and dislikes about beginnings.  Some hate prologues.  Some hate being flung into the middle of the story without any lead up. 

What about you?  What’s your favorite kind of beginning?  Or your least favorite?
      Your comment might win you a Loretta Chase book of your choice.
      

      
      
   
      

205 thoughts on “Where to begin?”

  1. I like prologues. I like a thorough introduction before being thrown into the heart of the story. I like intros that give me insight into a character’s personality.

    Reply
  2. I like prologues. I like a thorough introduction before being thrown into the heart of the story. I like intros that give me insight into a character’s personality.

    Reply
  3. I like prologues. I like a thorough introduction before being thrown into the heart of the story. I like intros that give me insight into a character’s personality.

    Reply
  4. I like prologues. I like a thorough introduction before being thrown into the heart of the story. I like intros that give me insight into a character’s personality.

    Reply
  5. I like prologues. I like a thorough introduction before being thrown into the heart of the story. I like intros that give me insight into a character’s personality.

    Reply
  6. I like your beginnings, Loretta, because they are interesting and they’re not run-of-the-mill.
    I also like Wench Edith’s beginnings, because she often starts with vivid descriptions of stormy weather. *g* (“It was a dark and stormy night …”)
    I like to say that I don’t care for prologues, but having said that, one of my own stories starts with a prologue. As with Lord of Scoundrels, some stories just require one.
    I very much like being flung into a story that starts with a bang. A good writer won’t leave you hanging more than a few sentences before starting to fill you in, so it’s no big deal if I don’t have all the facts up front.

    Reply
  7. I like your beginnings, Loretta, because they are interesting and they’re not run-of-the-mill.
    I also like Wench Edith’s beginnings, because she often starts with vivid descriptions of stormy weather. *g* (“It was a dark and stormy night …”)
    I like to say that I don’t care for prologues, but having said that, one of my own stories starts with a prologue. As with Lord of Scoundrels, some stories just require one.
    I very much like being flung into a story that starts with a bang. A good writer won’t leave you hanging more than a few sentences before starting to fill you in, so it’s no big deal if I don’t have all the facts up front.

    Reply
  8. I like your beginnings, Loretta, because they are interesting and they’re not run-of-the-mill.
    I also like Wench Edith’s beginnings, because she often starts with vivid descriptions of stormy weather. *g* (“It was a dark and stormy night …”)
    I like to say that I don’t care for prologues, but having said that, one of my own stories starts with a prologue. As with Lord of Scoundrels, some stories just require one.
    I very much like being flung into a story that starts with a bang. A good writer won’t leave you hanging more than a few sentences before starting to fill you in, so it’s no big deal if I don’t have all the facts up front.

    Reply
  9. I like your beginnings, Loretta, because they are interesting and they’re not run-of-the-mill.
    I also like Wench Edith’s beginnings, because she often starts with vivid descriptions of stormy weather. *g* (“It was a dark and stormy night …”)
    I like to say that I don’t care for prologues, but having said that, one of my own stories starts with a prologue. As with Lord of Scoundrels, some stories just require one.
    I very much like being flung into a story that starts with a bang. A good writer won’t leave you hanging more than a few sentences before starting to fill you in, so it’s no big deal if I don’t have all the facts up front.

    Reply
  10. I like your beginnings, Loretta, because they are interesting and they’re not run-of-the-mill.
    I also like Wench Edith’s beginnings, because she often starts with vivid descriptions of stormy weather. *g* (“It was a dark and stormy night …”)
    I like to say that I don’t care for prologues, but having said that, one of my own stories starts with a prologue. As with Lord of Scoundrels, some stories just require one.
    I very much like being flung into a story that starts with a bang. A good writer won’t leave you hanging more than a few sentences before starting to fill you in, so it’s no big deal if I don’t have all the facts up front.

    Reply
  11. I wouldn’t want every novel to begin the same way, but if I had a preference, it would be for “begin at the beginning, go on toward the middle, and stop at the end”. It’s not that I mind flashbacks or gradual revelations, but I do want to know who these people are and why I should be interested in them before I commit a chunk of time to reading about them.

    Reply
  12. I wouldn’t want every novel to begin the same way, but if I had a preference, it would be for “begin at the beginning, go on toward the middle, and stop at the end”. It’s not that I mind flashbacks or gradual revelations, but I do want to know who these people are and why I should be interested in them before I commit a chunk of time to reading about them.

    Reply
  13. I wouldn’t want every novel to begin the same way, but if I had a preference, it would be for “begin at the beginning, go on toward the middle, and stop at the end”. It’s not that I mind flashbacks or gradual revelations, but I do want to know who these people are and why I should be interested in them before I commit a chunk of time to reading about them.

    Reply
  14. I wouldn’t want every novel to begin the same way, but if I had a preference, it would be for “begin at the beginning, go on toward the middle, and stop at the end”. It’s not that I mind flashbacks or gradual revelations, but I do want to know who these people are and why I should be interested in them before I commit a chunk of time to reading about them.

    Reply
  15. I wouldn’t want every novel to begin the same way, but if I had a preference, it would be for “begin at the beginning, go on toward the middle, and stop at the end”. It’s not that I mind flashbacks or gradual revelations, but I do want to know who these people are and why I should be interested in them before I commit a chunk of time to reading about them.

    Reply
  16. I like a variety of beginnings too. My favourites are probably those which thrust the reader into the action, and let them discover the characters’ personalities through what they say and do. I really love it when an author slowly feeds me information about a character, allowing me to get a feel for them over a few chapters rather than being given a personality profile in just a matter of pages.
    My least favourites begin with a ten-paragraph physical description of the heroine. Some description is obviously good, but too much puts me off immediately – and I would rather have it through the eyes of another character, if possible, as in your opening to Lord Perfect!

    Reply
  17. I like a variety of beginnings too. My favourites are probably those which thrust the reader into the action, and let them discover the characters’ personalities through what they say and do. I really love it when an author slowly feeds me information about a character, allowing me to get a feel for them over a few chapters rather than being given a personality profile in just a matter of pages.
    My least favourites begin with a ten-paragraph physical description of the heroine. Some description is obviously good, but too much puts me off immediately – and I would rather have it through the eyes of another character, if possible, as in your opening to Lord Perfect!

    Reply
  18. I like a variety of beginnings too. My favourites are probably those which thrust the reader into the action, and let them discover the characters’ personalities through what they say and do. I really love it when an author slowly feeds me information about a character, allowing me to get a feel for them over a few chapters rather than being given a personality profile in just a matter of pages.
    My least favourites begin with a ten-paragraph physical description of the heroine. Some description is obviously good, but too much puts me off immediately – and I would rather have it through the eyes of another character, if possible, as in your opening to Lord Perfect!

    Reply
  19. I like a variety of beginnings too. My favourites are probably those which thrust the reader into the action, and let them discover the characters’ personalities through what they say and do. I really love it when an author slowly feeds me information about a character, allowing me to get a feel for them over a few chapters rather than being given a personality profile in just a matter of pages.
    My least favourites begin with a ten-paragraph physical description of the heroine. Some description is obviously good, but too much puts me off immediately – and I would rather have it through the eyes of another character, if possible, as in your opening to Lord Perfect!

    Reply
  20. I like a variety of beginnings too. My favourites are probably those which thrust the reader into the action, and let them discover the characters’ personalities through what they say and do. I really love it when an author slowly feeds me information about a character, allowing me to get a feel for them over a few chapters rather than being given a personality profile in just a matter of pages.
    My least favourites begin with a ten-paragraph physical description of the heroine. Some description is obviously good, but too much puts me off immediately – and I would rather have it through the eyes of another character, if possible, as in your opening to Lord Perfect!

    Reply
  21. I like prologues (I sometimes write them myself). They can really set the mood of the story and drive the reader to find out more. And I confess I don’t mind a moderate amount of backstory in the beginning either. Flashbacks are okay if they’re clearly flashbacks. I guess I like all the wring things, which probably explains why I’m not published, LOL.

    Reply
  22. I like prologues (I sometimes write them myself). They can really set the mood of the story and drive the reader to find out more. And I confess I don’t mind a moderate amount of backstory in the beginning either. Flashbacks are okay if they’re clearly flashbacks. I guess I like all the wring things, which probably explains why I’m not published, LOL.

    Reply
  23. I like prologues (I sometimes write them myself). They can really set the mood of the story and drive the reader to find out more. And I confess I don’t mind a moderate amount of backstory in the beginning either. Flashbacks are okay if they’re clearly flashbacks. I guess I like all the wring things, which probably explains why I’m not published, LOL.

    Reply
  24. I like prologues (I sometimes write them myself). They can really set the mood of the story and drive the reader to find out more. And I confess I don’t mind a moderate amount of backstory in the beginning either. Flashbacks are okay if they’re clearly flashbacks. I guess I like all the wring things, which probably explains why I’m not published, LOL.

    Reply
  25. I like prologues (I sometimes write them myself). They can really set the mood of the story and drive the reader to find out more. And I confess I don’t mind a moderate amount of backstory in the beginning either. Flashbacks are okay if they’re clearly flashbacks. I guess I like all the wring things, which probably explains why I’m not published, LOL.

    Reply
  26. I thought the prologue in LOS was wonderful and pretty catching. It was what caught my attention in the first place. The prologue in Miss Wonderful was another good one. Reading that book after your “hiatus” was enough to get me excited again. My first thought upon reading it was “She’s back!” Lord Perfect may not begin with a prologue but the beginning is one of my favourites.

    Reply
  27. I thought the prologue in LOS was wonderful and pretty catching. It was what caught my attention in the first place. The prologue in Miss Wonderful was another good one. Reading that book after your “hiatus” was enough to get me excited again. My first thought upon reading it was “She’s back!” Lord Perfect may not begin with a prologue but the beginning is one of my favourites.

    Reply
  28. I thought the prologue in LOS was wonderful and pretty catching. It was what caught my attention in the first place. The prologue in Miss Wonderful was another good one. Reading that book after your “hiatus” was enough to get me excited again. My first thought upon reading it was “She’s back!” Lord Perfect may not begin with a prologue but the beginning is one of my favourites.

    Reply
  29. I thought the prologue in LOS was wonderful and pretty catching. It was what caught my attention in the first place. The prologue in Miss Wonderful was another good one. Reading that book after your “hiatus” was enough to get me excited again. My first thought upon reading it was “She’s back!” Lord Perfect may not begin with a prologue but the beginning is one of my favourites.

    Reply
  30. I thought the prologue in LOS was wonderful and pretty catching. It was what caught my attention in the first place. The prologue in Miss Wonderful was another good one. Reading that book after your “hiatus” was enough to get me excited again. My first thought upon reading it was “She’s back!” Lord Perfect may not begin with a prologue but the beginning is one of my favourites.

    Reply
  31. It doesn’t matter to me what the beginning is, as long as it catches me. Prologues can catch me and so can books without them. I love great opening lines. I think it’s a sign of a great writer to be able to grab someones attention in the first paragraph or first sentence. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Spoooooky

    Reply
  32. It doesn’t matter to me what the beginning is, as long as it catches me. Prologues can catch me and so can books without them. I love great opening lines. I think it’s a sign of a great writer to be able to grab someones attention in the first paragraph or first sentence. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Spoooooky

    Reply
  33. It doesn’t matter to me what the beginning is, as long as it catches me. Prologues can catch me and so can books without them. I love great opening lines. I think it’s a sign of a great writer to be able to grab someones attention in the first paragraph or first sentence. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Spoooooky

    Reply
  34. It doesn’t matter to me what the beginning is, as long as it catches me. Prologues can catch me and so can books without them. I love great opening lines. I think it’s a sign of a great writer to be able to grab someones attention in the first paragraph or first sentence. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Spoooooky

    Reply
  35. It doesn’t matter to me what the beginning is, as long as it catches me. Prologues can catch me and so can books without them. I love great opening lines. I think it’s a sign of a great writer to be able to grab someones attention in the first paragraph or first sentence. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Spoooooky

    Reply
  36. I hate this so much I can’t believe I’ve read it several times – when the opening is the hero, banging some other chick, realizing he’s bored with his life. It always slams the other chick too. Just because the hero and heroine have a HEA it doesn’t make every other woman (or man) the people involved ever dated or knew contemptible.
    As a matter of fact, when the heroine and the mistress like each other, I find that more realistic. It’s not like your life is filled with creeps and then BAM an angel arrives. People are people, and if the hero is a using creep who thinks nasty thoughts about someone he’s sleeping with – why do I want him with the heroine? She can do better.

    Reply
  37. I hate this so much I can’t believe I’ve read it several times – when the opening is the hero, banging some other chick, realizing he’s bored with his life. It always slams the other chick too. Just because the hero and heroine have a HEA it doesn’t make every other woman (or man) the people involved ever dated or knew contemptible.
    As a matter of fact, when the heroine and the mistress like each other, I find that more realistic. It’s not like your life is filled with creeps and then BAM an angel arrives. People are people, and if the hero is a using creep who thinks nasty thoughts about someone he’s sleeping with – why do I want him with the heroine? She can do better.

    Reply
  38. I hate this so much I can’t believe I’ve read it several times – when the opening is the hero, banging some other chick, realizing he’s bored with his life. It always slams the other chick too. Just because the hero and heroine have a HEA it doesn’t make every other woman (or man) the people involved ever dated or knew contemptible.
    As a matter of fact, when the heroine and the mistress like each other, I find that more realistic. It’s not like your life is filled with creeps and then BAM an angel arrives. People are people, and if the hero is a using creep who thinks nasty thoughts about someone he’s sleeping with – why do I want him with the heroine? She can do better.

    Reply
  39. I hate this so much I can’t believe I’ve read it several times – when the opening is the hero, banging some other chick, realizing he’s bored with his life. It always slams the other chick too. Just because the hero and heroine have a HEA it doesn’t make every other woman (or man) the people involved ever dated or knew contemptible.
    As a matter of fact, when the heroine and the mistress like each other, I find that more realistic. It’s not like your life is filled with creeps and then BAM an angel arrives. People are people, and if the hero is a using creep who thinks nasty thoughts about someone he’s sleeping with – why do I want him with the heroine? She can do better.

    Reply
  40. I hate this so much I can’t believe I’ve read it several times – when the opening is the hero, banging some other chick, realizing he’s bored with his life. It always slams the other chick too. Just because the hero and heroine have a HEA it doesn’t make every other woman (or man) the people involved ever dated or knew contemptible.
    As a matter of fact, when the heroine and the mistress like each other, I find that more realistic. It’s not like your life is filled with creeps and then BAM an angel arrives. People are people, and if the hero is a using creep who thinks nasty thoughts about someone he’s sleeping with – why do I want him with the heroine? She can do better.

    Reply
  41. I’m not fond of prologues or constant flashbacks if the backstory could be done in any other way. A bit of mystery is far more interesting. Giving out too much information early on doesn’t leave much room for interesting revelations later. This doesn’t apply to Lord of Scoundrels though – the prologue made me want to read more and there were plenty of revelations to come. Some characters just seem to have more than the usual amount of story in them.

    Reply
  42. I’m not fond of prologues or constant flashbacks if the backstory could be done in any other way. A bit of mystery is far more interesting. Giving out too much information early on doesn’t leave much room for interesting revelations later. This doesn’t apply to Lord of Scoundrels though – the prologue made me want to read more and there were plenty of revelations to come. Some characters just seem to have more than the usual amount of story in them.

    Reply
  43. I’m not fond of prologues or constant flashbacks if the backstory could be done in any other way. A bit of mystery is far more interesting. Giving out too much information early on doesn’t leave much room for interesting revelations later. This doesn’t apply to Lord of Scoundrels though – the prologue made me want to read more and there were plenty of revelations to come. Some characters just seem to have more than the usual amount of story in them.

    Reply
  44. I’m not fond of prologues or constant flashbacks if the backstory could be done in any other way. A bit of mystery is far more interesting. Giving out too much information early on doesn’t leave much room for interesting revelations later. This doesn’t apply to Lord of Scoundrels though – the prologue made me want to read more and there were plenty of revelations to come. Some characters just seem to have more than the usual amount of story in them.

    Reply
  45. I’m not fond of prologues or constant flashbacks if the backstory could be done in any other way. A bit of mystery is far more interesting. Giving out too much information early on doesn’t leave much room for interesting revelations later. This doesn’t apply to Lord of Scoundrels though – the prologue made me want to read more and there were plenty of revelations to come. Some characters just seem to have more than the usual amount of story in them.

    Reply
  46. Hi Loretta!
    I can definitely relate to the scoffing “writing gods.” My sneer, snicker and belly laugh often. I’m so glad I can keep them entertained.
    In general, I don’t care for prologues. If the writer can’t give me what I need, bit by bit, throughout the story, then I question his/her story telling abilities. That said, LOS is the best prologue I’ve ever read. The first line dug so deep into my heart, I didn’t care if the section was titled prologue or chapter 1.
    MJP’s DANCING ON THE WIND starts with a prologue. “After the funerals, he was sent back to school.” A fantastic, rip-your-heart-out line. Needless to say, I burned through the book, prologue and all.
    Perhaps, my distaste isn’t so much for prologues but for emotionally deprived first lines. I hate to admit it, but it’s true, if a writer hasn’t stabbed her quill into my heart by page 2, I’m out.

    Reply
  47. Hi Loretta!
    I can definitely relate to the scoffing “writing gods.” My sneer, snicker and belly laugh often. I’m so glad I can keep them entertained.
    In general, I don’t care for prologues. If the writer can’t give me what I need, bit by bit, throughout the story, then I question his/her story telling abilities. That said, LOS is the best prologue I’ve ever read. The first line dug so deep into my heart, I didn’t care if the section was titled prologue or chapter 1.
    MJP’s DANCING ON THE WIND starts with a prologue. “After the funerals, he was sent back to school.” A fantastic, rip-your-heart-out line. Needless to say, I burned through the book, prologue and all.
    Perhaps, my distaste isn’t so much for prologues but for emotionally deprived first lines. I hate to admit it, but it’s true, if a writer hasn’t stabbed her quill into my heart by page 2, I’m out.

    Reply
  48. Hi Loretta!
    I can definitely relate to the scoffing “writing gods.” My sneer, snicker and belly laugh often. I’m so glad I can keep them entertained.
    In general, I don’t care for prologues. If the writer can’t give me what I need, bit by bit, throughout the story, then I question his/her story telling abilities. That said, LOS is the best prologue I’ve ever read. The first line dug so deep into my heart, I didn’t care if the section was titled prologue or chapter 1.
    MJP’s DANCING ON THE WIND starts with a prologue. “After the funerals, he was sent back to school.” A fantastic, rip-your-heart-out line. Needless to say, I burned through the book, prologue and all.
    Perhaps, my distaste isn’t so much for prologues but for emotionally deprived first lines. I hate to admit it, but it’s true, if a writer hasn’t stabbed her quill into my heart by page 2, I’m out.

    Reply
  49. Hi Loretta!
    I can definitely relate to the scoffing “writing gods.” My sneer, snicker and belly laugh often. I’m so glad I can keep them entertained.
    In general, I don’t care for prologues. If the writer can’t give me what I need, bit by bit, throughout the story, then I question his/her story telling abilities. That said, LOS is the best prologue I’ve ever read. The first line dug so deep into my heart, I didn’t care if the section was titled prologue or chapter 1.
    MJP’s DANCING ON THE WIND starts with a prologue. “After the funerals, he was sent back to school.” A fantastic, rip-your-heart-out line. Needless to say, I burned through the book, prologue and all.
    Perhaps, my distaste isn’t so much for prologues but for emotionally deprived first lines. I hate to admit it, but it’s true, if a writer hasn’t stabbed her quill into my heart by page 2, I’m out.

    Reply
  50. Hi Loretta!
    I can definitely relate to the scoffing “writing gods.” My sneer, snicker and belly laugh often. I’m so glad I can keep them entertained.
    In general, I don’t care for prologues. If the writer can’t give me what I need, bit by bit, throughout the story, then I question his/her story telling abilities. That said, LOS is the best prologue I’ve ever read. The first line dug so deep into my heart, I didn’t care if the section was titled prologue or chapter 1.
    MJP’s DANCING ON THE WIND starts with a prologue. “After the funerals, he was sent back to school.” A fantastic, rip-your-heart-out line. Needless to say, I burned through the book, prologue and all.
    Perhaps, my distaste isn’t so much for prologues but for emotionally deprived first lines. I hate to admit it, but it’s true, if a writer hasn’t stabbed her quill into my heart by page 2, I’m out.

    Reply
  51. I like openings that draw you in immediately, such as the line quoted above from “Rebecca” or the opening of Diana Norman’s “The Vizard Mask”: “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day” — you know immediately you’re in for an exciting ride. Whether that happens in a prologue or by jumping immediately into the story’s here-and-now depends on the story. I prefer a prologue that shows us to having too much exposition of things the characters should already know or which sound stilted (“and here is my sister who is married to the Earl of X who is a decorated war hero who is now a reknowned agriculturalist” etc.) This kind of thing might be drawn out over the course of conversation, but too many such situations are clearly an info dump and sound false rather than part of a natural conversation.
    OTOH, I’m pretty forgiving because I’ve read lots of books that started slowly but which I came to love (Richard Russo’s “Empire Falls”, for example, or Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure”).
    It comes down to good writing (but then, doesn’t it always?).

    Reply
  52. I like openings that draw you in immediately, such as the line quoted above from “Rebecca” or the opening of Diana Norman’s “The Vizard Mask”: “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day” — you know immediately you’re in for an exciting ride. Whether that happens in a prologue or by jumping immediately into the story’s here-and-now depends on the story. I prefer a prologue that shows us to having too much exposition of things the characters should already know or which sound stilted (“and here is my sister who is married to the Earl of X who is a decorated war hero who is now a reknowned agriculturalist” etc.) This kind of thing might be drawn out over the course of conversation, but too many such situations are clearly an info dump and sound false rather than part of a natural conversation.
    OTOH, I’m pretty forgiving because I’ve read lots of books that started slowly but which I came to love (Richard Russo’s “Empire Falls”, for example, or Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure”).
    It comes down to good writing (but then, doesn’t it always?).

    Reply
  53. I like openings that draw you in immediately, such as the line quoted above from “Rebecca” or the opening of Diana Norman’s “The Vizard Mask”: “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day” — you know immediately you’re in for an exciting ride. Whether that happens in a prologue or by jumping immediately into the story’s here-and-now depends on the story. I prefer a prologue that shows us to having too much exposition of things the characters should already know or which sound stilted (“and here is my sister who is married to the Earl of X who is a decorated war hero who is now a reknowned agriculturalist” etc.) This kind of thing might be drawn out over the course of conversation, but too many such situations are clearly an info dump and sound false rather than part of a natural conversation.
    OTOH, I’m pretty forgiving because I’ve read lots of books that started slowly but which I came to love (Richard Russo’s “Empire Falls”, for example, or Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure”).
    It comes down to good writing (but then, doesn’t it always?).

    Reply
  54. I like openings that draw you in immediately, such as the line quoted above from “Rebecca” or the opening of Diana Norman’s “The Vizard Mask”: “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day” — you know immediately you’re in for an exciting ride. Whether that happens in a prologue or by jumping immediately into the story’s here-and-now depends on the story. I prefer a prologue that shows us to having too much exposition of things the characters should already know or which sound stilted (“and here is my sister who is married to the Earl of X who is a decorated war hero who is now a reknowned agriculturalist” etc.) This kind of thing might be drawn out over the course of conversation, but too many such situations are clearly an info dump and sound false rather than part of a natural conversation.
    OTOH, I’m pretty forgiving because I’ve read lots of books that started slowly but which I came to love (Richard Russo’s “Empire Falls”, for example, or Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure”).
    It comes down to good writing (but then, doesn’t it always?).

    Reply
  55. I like openings that draw you in immediately, such as the line quoted above from “Rebecca” or the opening of Diana Norman’s “The Vizard Mask”: “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day” — you know immediately you’re in for an exciting ride. Whether that happens in a prologue or by jumping immediately into the story’s here-and-now depends on the story. I prefer a prologue that shows us to having too much exposition of things the characters should already know or which sound stilted (“and here is my sister who is married to the Earl of X who is a decorated war hero who is now a reknowned agriculturalist” etc.) This kind of thing might be drawn out over the course of conversation, but too many such situations are clearly an info dump and sound false rather than part of a natural conversation.
    OTOH, I’m pretty forgiving because I’ve read lots of books that started slowly but which I came to love (Richard Russo’s “Empire Falls”, for example, or Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure”).
    It comes down to good writing (but then, doesn’t it always?).

    Reply
  56. I like beginnings that leave you wanting to know more. It could be some sort of mystery or a scene involving the heroine/hero that leaves a question in your mind.

    Reply
  57. I like beginnings that leave you wanting to know more. It could be some sort of mystery or a scene involving the heroine/hero that leaves a question in your mind.

    Reply
  58. I like beginnings that leave you wanting to know more. It could be some sort of mystery or a scene involving the heroine/hero that leaves a question in your mind.

    Reply
  59. I like beginnings that leave you wanting to know more. It could be some sort of mystery or a scene involving the heroine/hero that leaves a question in your mind.

    Reply
  60. I like beginnings that leave you wanting to know more. It could be some sort of mystery or a scene involving the heroine/hero that leaves a question in your mind.

    Reply
  61. I want two things from an opening: I want to see that what the author is telling or showing me *matters*, and I want to be made curious, preferably about what will happen to a character who is more than just a name and a face. There are some who will tell you that a prologue is Bad because it’s not the story, but I think there are more important things going on in a really engaging novel than mere (?) story.

    Reply
  62. I want two things from an opening: I want to see that what the author is telling or showing me *matters*, and I want to be made curious, preferably about what will happen to a character who is more than just a name and a face. There are some who will tell you that a prologue is Bad because it’s not the story, but I think there are more important things going on in a really engaging novel than mere (?) story.

    Reply
  63. I want two things from an opening: I want to see that what the author is telling or showing me *matters*, and I want to be made curious, preferably about what will happen to a character who is more than just a name and a face. There are some who will tell you that a prologue is Bad because it’s not the story, but I think there are more important things going on in a really engaging novel than mere (?) story.

    Reply
  64. I want two things from an opening: I want to see that what the author is telling or showing me *matters*, and I want to be made curious, preferably about what will happen to a character who is more than just a name and a face. There are some who will tell you that a prologue is Bad because it’s not the story, but I think there are more important things going on in a really engaging novel than mere (?) story.

    Reply
  65. I want two things from an opening: I want to see that what the author is telling or showing me *matters*, and I want to be made curious, preferably about what will happen to a character who is more than just a name and a face. There are some who will tell you that a prologue is Bad because it’s not the story, but I think there are more important things going on in a really engaging novel than mere (?) story.

    Reply
  66. Once upon a time …
    Long ago and far away …
    Once upon a time, those openings had me hooked immediately, and they probably still would if anyone dared use them for stories intended for adults. But to be honest, there is no particular type of opening I dislike. A good book leads me into a different world, and there are all sorts of pathways that can get me there.

    Reply
  67. Once upon a time …
    Long ago and far away …
    Once upon a time, those openings had me hooked immediately, and they probably still would if anyone dared use them for stories intended for adults. But to be honest, there is no particular type of opening I dislike. A good book leads me into a different world, and there are all sorts of pathways that can get me there.

    Reply
  68. Once upon a time …
    Long ago and far away …
    Once upon a time, those openings had me hooked immediately, and they probably still would if anyone dared use them for stories intended for adults. But to be honest, there is no particular type of opening I dislike. A good book leads me into a different world, and there are all sorts of pathways that can get me there.

    Reply
  69. Once upon a time …
    Long ago and far away …
    Once upon a time, those openings had me hooked immediately, and they probably still would if anyone dared use them for stories intended for adults. But to be honest, there is no particular type of opening I dislike. A good book leads me into a different world, and there are all sorts of pathways that can get me there.

    Reply
  70. Once upon a time …
    Long ago and far away …
    Once upon a time, those openings had me hooked immediately, and they probably still would if anyone dared use them for stories intended for adults. But to be honest, there is no particular type of opening I dislike. A good book leads me into a different world, and there are all sorts of pathways that can get me there.

    Reply
  71. I like beginnings that set up the story. I usually read the first 2 pages of a book to see if I want to read the rest of it so if it doesn’t get my attention I don’t purchase it. There’s so many good ones out there, I don’t want to spend time trying to figure out what the story was about when I get to the end of it.

    Reply
  72. I like beginnings that set up the story. I usually read the first 2 pages of a book to see if I want to read the rest of it so if it doesn’t get my attention I don’t purchase it. There’s so many good ones out there, I don’t want to spend time trying to figure out what the story was about when I get to the end of it.

    Reply
  73. I like beginnings that set up the story. I usually read the first 2 pages of a book to see if I want to read the rest of it so if it doesn’t get my attention I don’t purchase it. There’s so many good ones out there, I don’t want to spend time trying to figure out what the story was about when I get to the end of it.

    Reply
  74. I like beginnings that set up the story. I usually read the first 2 pages of a book to see if I want to read the rest of it so if it doesn’t get my attention I don’t purchase it. There’s so many good ones out there, I don’t want to spend time trying to figure out what the story was about when I get to the end of it.

    Reply
  75. I like beginnings that set up the story. I usually read the first 2 pages of a book to see if I want to read the rest of it so if it doesn’t get my attention I don’t purchase it. There’s so many good ones out there, I don’t want to spend time trying to figure out what the story was about when I get to the end of it.

    Reply
  76. I don’t have writing gods so much as writing imps who dangle all sorts of tempting scenes in front of me and defy me to choose one. But sometimes the “inciting” action is in the past and simply needs to be there before the grown-up characters explode on the page and do irrational things. I think that goes into what Janice is saying–I need to know that the character, as well as the story, is interesting before I dive into a book.

    Reply
  77. I don’t have writing gods so much as writing imps who dangle all sorts of tempting scenes in front of me and defy me to choose one. But sometimes the “inciting” action is in the past and simply needs to be there before the grown-up characters explode on the page and do irrational things. I think that goes into what Janice is saying–I need to know that the character, as well as the story, is interesting before I dive into a book.

    Reply
  78. I don’t have writing gods so much as writing imps who dangle all sorts of tempting scenes in front of me and defy me to choose one. But sometimes the “inciting” action is in the past and simply needs to be there before the grown-up characters explode on the page and do irrational things. I think that goes into what Janice is saying–I need to know that the character, as well as the story, is interesting before I dive into a book.

    Reply
  79. I don’t have writing gods so much as writing imps who dangle all sorts of tempting scenes in front of me and defy me to choose one. But sometimes the “inciting” action is in the past and simply needs to be there before the grown-up characters explode on the page and do irrational things. I think that goes into what Janice is saying–I need to know that the character, as well as the story, is interesting before I dive into a book.

    Reply
  80. I don’t have writing gods so much as writing imps who dangle all sorts of tempting scenes in front of me and defy me to choose one. But sometimes the “inciting” action is in the past and simply needs to be there before the grown-up characters explode on the page and do irrational things. I think that goes into what Janice is saying–I need to know that the character, as well as the story, is interesting before I dive into a book.

    Reply
  81. When I pick up a book to buy I read the blub on the back or on the inside of the cover of a hardback book. I usually read the first couple of pages to see if the author is giving me enough on the characters and makes me want to read more. I want to be drawn into the book so much that you can’t wait to get to end. I want to be able to feel the pain, the pleasure and the happiness of the characters. I enjoy reading the prologue in some books I think it helps some on deciding to buy the book.

    Reply
  82. When I pick up a book to buy I read the blub on the back or on the inside of the cover of a hardback book. I usually read the first couple of pages to see if the author is giving me enough on the characters and makes me want to read more. I want to be drawn into the book so much that you can’t wait to get to end. I want to be able to feel the pain, the pleasure and the happiness of the characters. I enjoy reading the prologue in some books I think it helps some on deciding to buy the book.

    Reply
  83. When I pick up a book to buy I read the blub on the back or on the inside of the cover of a hardback book. I usually read the first couple of pages to see if the author is giving me enough on the characters and makes me want to read more. I want to be drawn into the book so much that you can’t wait to get to end. I want to be able to feel the pain, the pleasure and the happiness of the characters. I enjoy reading the prologue in some books I think it helps some on deciding to buy the book.

    Reply
  84. When I pick up a book to buy I read the blub on the back or on the inside of the cover of a hardback book. I usually read the first couple of pages to see if the author is giving me enough on the characters and makes me want to read more. I want to be drawn into the book so much that you can’t wait to get to end. I want to be able to feel the pain, the pleasure and the happiness of the characters. I enjoy reading the prologue in some books I think it helps some on deciding to buy the book.

    Reply
  85. When I pick up a book to buy I read the blub on the back or on the inside of the cover of a hardback book. I usually read the first couple of pages to see if the author is giving me enough on the characters and makes me want to read more. I want to be drawn into the book so much that you can’t wait to get to end. I want to be able to feel the pain, the pleasure and the happiness of the characters. I enjoy reading the prologue in some books I think it helps some on deciding to buy the book.

    Reply
  86. I like things to be happening when I start reading a book. It doesn’t matter if it’s a prologue or not. I want to be introduced to characters and get a feeling of who they are but I want part of that introduction to be through their actions with others.

    Reply
  87. I like things to be happening when I start reading a book. It doesn’t matter if it’s a prologue or not. I want to be introduced to characters and get a feeling of who they are but I want part of that introduction to be through their actions with others.

    Reply
  88. I like things to be happening when I start reading a book. It doesn’t matter if it’s a prologue or not. I want to be introduced to characters and get a feeling of who they are but I want part of that introduction to be through their actions with others.

    Reply
  89. I like things to be happening when I start reading a book. It doesn’t matter if it’s a prologue or not. I want to be introduced to characters and get a feeling of who they are but I want part of that introduction to be through their actions with others.

    Reply
  90. I like things to be happening when I start reading a book. It doesn’t matter if it’s a prologue or not. I want to be introduced to characters and get a feeling of who they are but I want part of that introduction to be through their actions with others.

    Reply
  91. A great variety of preferences, yet comments seem to have in common the “get me interested” concept. Jane O summed it up for me: “A good book leads me into a different world, and there are all sorts of pathways that can get me there.”
    “But sometimes the ‘inciting’ action is in the past and simply needs to be there before the grown-up characters explode on the page and do irrational things.” Good point, Pat. This is when the prologue works. Otherwise, there are dozens of ways to work in backstory after an intense, in-the-middle-of-things start.

    Reply
  92. A great variety of preferences, yet comments seem to have in common the “get me interested” concept. Jane O summed it up for me: “A good book leads me into a different world, and there are all sorts of pathways that can get me there.”
    “But sometimes the ‘inciting’ action is in the past and simply needs to be there before the grown-up characters explode on the page and do irrational things.” Good point, Pat. This is when the prologue works. Otherwise, there are dozens of ways to work in backstory after an intense, in-the-middle-of-things start.

    Reply
  93. A great variety of preferences, yet comments seem to have in common the “get me interested” concept. Jane O summed it up for me: “A good book leads me into a different world, and there are all sorts of pathways that can get me there.”
    “But sometimes the ‘inciting’ action is in the past and simply needs to be there before the grown-up characters explode on the page and do irrational things.” Good point, Pat. This is when the prologue works. Otherwise, there are dozens of ways to work in backstory after an intense, in-the-middle-of-things start.

    Reply
  94. A great variety of preferences, yet comments seem to have in common the “get me interested” concept. Jane O summed it up for me: “A good book leads me into a different world, and there are all sorts of pathways that can get me there.”
    “But sometimes the ‘inciting’ action is in the past and simply needs to be there before the grown-up characters explode on the page and do irrational things.” Good point, Pat. This is when the prologue works. Otherwise, there are dozens of ways to work in backstory after an intense, in-the-middle-of-things start.

    Reply
  95. A great variety of preferences, yet comments seem to have in common the “get me interested” concept. Jane O summed it up for me: “A good book leads me into a different world, and there are all sorts of pathways that can get me there.”
    “But sometimes the ‘inciting’ action is in the past and simply needs to be there before the grown-up characters explode on the page and do irrational things.” Good point, Pat. This is when the prologue works. Otherwise, there are dozens of ways to work in backstory after an intense, in-the-middle-of-things start.

    Reply
  96. How apropos of you to talk about beginnings the day I am supposed to be beginning a new book. And where are the Gods Of Beginnings when I need them? Out to lunch, apparently. Or holed up in the cyberspatial version of the Library of Alexandria, already scoffing at me.
    I can see this beginning — there’s a girl painting a wall in a houseboat. I just need the right words to get in.
    I love the words that begin Isabella. And Lord of Scoundrels is great. I was partial to the beginning of the Last Hellion, though. It, like Isabella, made me ask questions.
    And, like you, I have my favorites of my own. The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”
    Now I’m off, hoping for something equally inspiring to get me moving on this one!

    Reply
  97. How apropos of you to talk about beginnings the day I am supposed to be beginning a new book. And where are the Gods Of Beginnings when I need them? Out to lunch, apparently. Or holed up in the cyberspatial version of the Library of Alexandria, already scoffing at me.
    I can see this beginning — there’s a girl painting a wall in a houseboat. I just need the right words to get in.
    I love the words that begin Isabella. And Lord of Scoundrels is great. I was partial to the beginning of the Last Hellion, though. It, like Isabella, made me ask questions.
    And, like you, I have my favorites of my own. The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”
    Now I’m off, hoping for something equally inspiring to get me moving on this one!

    Reply
  98. How apropos of you to talk about beginnings the day I am supposed to be beginning a new book. And where are the Gods Of Beginnings when I need them? Out to lunch, apparently. Or holed up in the cyberspatial version of the Library of Alexandria, already scoffing at me.
    I can see this beginning — there’s a girl painting a wall in a houseboat. I just need the right words to get in.
    I love the words that begin Isabella. And Lord of Scoundrels is great. I was partial to the beginning of the Last Hellion, though. It, like Isabella, made me ask questions.
    And, like you, I have my favorites of my own. The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”
    Now I’m off, hoping for something equally inspiring to get me moving on this one!

    Reply
  99. How apropos of you to talk about beginnings the day I am supposed to be beginning a new book. And where are the Gods Of Beginnings when I need them? Out to lunch, apparently. Or holed up in the cyberspatial version of the Library of Alexandria, already scoffing at me.
    I can see this beginning — there’s a girl painting a wall in a houseboat. I just need the right words to get in.
    I love the words that begin Isabella. And Lord of Scoundrels is great. I was partial to the beginning of the Last Hellion, though. It, like Isabella, made me ask questions.
    And, like you, I have my favorites of my own. The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”
    Now I’m off, hoping for something equally inspiring to get me moving on this one!

    Reply
  100. How apropos of you to talk about beginnings the day I am supposed to be beginning a new book. And where are the Gods Of Beginnings when I need them? Out to lunch, apparently. Or holed up in the cyberspatial version of the Library of Alexandria, already scoffing at me.
    I can see this beginning — there’s a girl painting a wall in a houseboat. I just need the right words to get in.
    I love the words that begin Isabella. And Lord of Scoundrels is great. I was partial to the beginning of the Last Hellion, though. It, like Isabella, made me ask questions.
    And, like you, I have my favorites of my own. The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”
    Now I’m off, hoping for something equally inspiring to get me moving on this one!

    Reply
  101. I think I go along with the people who say it doesn’t matter whether it’s a prologue or Chapter 1, it’s got to grab you right away. For some unknown reason, one of my very favorite opening lines is Jasper Fforde’s Eyre Affair: “My father had a face that could stop a clock.” (Literally–he was a time traveler. But somehow I just love that line.) Having said all that … I must express some distate for what I call “the history of the world opening” (or what others have referred to as “I am born”). So grab me and you’ve got me!
    One more thing–someone mentioned reading the blurb on the back. Sadly, I am so disillusioned with such blurbs that I tend not to read them any more. Many don’t really give a sense of the book–and I’ve read a few that are actually WRONG! Have I read here or elsewhere that authors don’t actually write these themselves?

    Reply
  102. I think I go along with the people who say it doesn’t matter whether it’s a prologue or Chapter 1, it’s got to grab you right away. For some unknown reason, one of my very favorite opening lines is Jasper Fforde’s Eyre Affair: “My father had a face that could stop a clock.” (Literally–he was a time traveler. But somehow I just love that line.) Having said all that … I must express some distate for what I call “the history of the world opening” (or what others have referred to as “I am born”). So grab me and you’ve got me!
    One more thing–someone mentioned reading the blurb on the back. Sadly, I am so disillusioned with such blurbs that I tend not to read them any more. Many don’t really give a sense of the book–and I’ve read a few that are actually WRONG! Have I read here or elsewhere that authors don’t actually write these themselves?

    Reply
  103. I think I go along with the people who say it doesn’t matter whether it’s a prologue or Chapter 1, it’s got to grab you right away. For some unknown reason, one of my very favorite opening lines is Jasper Fforde’s Eyre Affair: “My father had a face that could stop a clock.” (Literally–he was a time traveler. But somehow I just love that line.) Having said all that … I must express some distate for what I call “the history of the world opening” (or what others have referred to as “I am born”). So grab me and you’ve got me!
    One more thing–someone mentioned reading the blurb on the back. Sadly, I am so disillusioned with such blurbs that I tend not to read them any more. Many don’t really give a sense of the book–and I’ve read a few that are actually WRONG! Have I read here or elsewhere that authors don’t actually write these themselves?

    Reply
  104. I think I go along with the people who say it doesn’t matter whether it’s a prologue or Chapter 1, it’s got to grab you right away. For some unknown reason, one of my very favorite opening lines is Jasper Fforde’s Eyre Affair: “My father had a face that could stop a clock.” (Literally–he was a time traveler. But somehow I just love that line.) Having said all that … I must express some distate for what I call “the history of the world opening” (or what others have referred to as “I am born”). So grab me and you’ve got me!
    One more thing–someone mentioned reading the blurb on the back. Sadly, I am so disillusioned with such blurbs that I tend not to read them any more. Many don’t really give a sense of the book–and I’ve read a few that are actually WRONG! Have I read here or elsewhere that authors don’t actually write these themselves?

    Reply
  105. I think I go along with the people who say it doesn’t matter whether it’s a prologue or Chapter 1, it’s got to grab you right away. For some unknown reason, one of my very favorite opening lines is Jasper Fforde’s Eyre Affair: “My father had a face that could stop a clock.” (Literally–he was a time traveler. But somehow I just love that line.) Having said all that … I must express some distate for what I call “the history of the world opening” (or what others have referred to as “I am born”). So grab me and you’ve got me!
    One more thing–someone mentioned reading the blurb on the back. Sadly, I am so disillusioned with such blurbs that I tend not to read them any more. Many don’t really give a sense of the book–and I’ve read a few that are actually WRONG! Have I read here or elsewhere that authors don’t actually write these themselves?

    Reply
  106. I’ve been trying to let the discussion go on among the readers without putting my two cents in…too much. But JudiDW asked about blurbs, and I can respond to that. Some of us have total control over the blurbs, some of us have partial control, and some have no control whatsoever. For many years I wasn’t even consulted regarding blurbs: Someone wrote them and I had no say at all. And yes, there were errors. Happily, that has not been the case for some time.

    Reply
  107. I’ve been trying to let the discussion go on among the readers without putting my two cents in…too much. But JudiDW asked about blurbs, and I can respond to that. Some of us have total control over the blurbs, some of us have partial control, and some have no control whatsoever. For many years I wasn’t even consulted regarding blurbs: Someone wrote them and I had no say at all. And yes, there were errors. Happily, that has not been the case for some time.

    Reply
  108. I’ve been trying to let the discussion go on among the readers without putting my two cents in…too much. But JudiDW asked about blurbs, and I can respond to that. Some of us have total control over the blurbs, some of us have partial control, and some have no control whatsoever. For many years I wasn’t even consulted regarding blurbs: Someone wrote them and I had no say at all. And yes, there were errors. Happily, that has not been the case for some time.

    Reply
  109. I’ve been trying to let the discussion go on among the readers without putting my two cents in…too much. But JudiDW asked about blurbs, and I can respond to that. Some of us have total control over the blurbs, some of us have partial control, and some have no control whatsoever. For many years I wasn’t even consulted regarding blurbs: Someone wrote them and I had no say at all. And yes, there were errors. Happily, that has not been the case for some time.

    Reply
  110. I’ve been trying to let the discussion go on among the readers without putting my two cents in…too much. But JudiDW asked about blurbs, and I can respond to that. Some of us have total control over the blurbs, some of us have partial control, and some have no control whatsoever. For many years I wasn’t even consulted regarding blurbs: Someone wrote them and I had no say at all. And yes, there were errors. Happily, that has not been the case for some time.

    Reply
  111. **I hate it when the hero is in the arms of his mistress in the first pages… total turn-off!**
    Lily, you and Liz have expressed the same INTENSE dislike of this situation. But IIRC, one of Laura Kinsale’s books opened with the hero in bed with his mistress–Flowers from the Storm, I think–and that was a megahit. So I suspect it isn’t so much the situation but way it’s done, the purpose it serves, and what it communicates about the hero. Or does this situation itself simply turn you off?

    Reply
  112. **I hate it when the hero is in the arms of his mistress in the first pages… total turn-off!**
    Lily, you and Liz have expressed the same INTENSE dislike of this situation. But IIRC, one of Laura Kinsale’s books opened with the hero in bed with his mistress–Flowers from the Storm, I think–and that was a megahit. So I suspect it isn’t so much the situation but way it’s done, the purpose it serves, and what it communicates about the hero. Or does this situation itself simply turn you off?

    Reply
  113. **I hate it when the hero is in the arms of his mistress in the first pages… total turn-off!**
    Lily, you and Liz have expressed the same INTENSE dislike of this situation. But IIRC, one of Laura Kinsale’s books opened with the hero in bed with his mistress–Flowers from the Storm, I think–and that was a megahit. So I suspect it isn’t so much the situation but way it’s done, the purpose it serves, and what it communicates about the hero. Or does this situation itself simply turn you off?

    Reply
  114. **I hate it when the hero is in the arms of his mistress in the first pages… total turn-off!**
    Lily, you and Liz have expressed the same INTENSE dislike of this situation. But IIRC, one of Laura Kinsale’s books opened with the hero in bed with his mistress–Flowers from the Storm, I think–and that was a megahit. So I suspect it isn’t so much the situation but way it’s done, the purpose it serves, and what it communicates about the hero. Or does this situation itself simply turn you off?

    Reply
  115. **I hate it when the hero is in the arms of his mistress in the first pages… total turn-off!**
    Lily, you and Liz have expressed the same INTENSE dislike of this situation. But IIRC, one of Laura Kinsale’s books opened with the hero in bed with his mistress–Flowers from the Storm, I think–and that was a megahit. So I suspect it isn’t so much the situation but way it’s done, the purpose it serves, and what it communicates about the hero. Or does this situation itself simply turn you off?

    Reply
  116. ** The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”**
    Anne, the gods did right by you. That’s an excellent opening!

    Reply
  117. ** The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”**
    Anne, the gods did right by you. That’s an excellent opening!

    Reply
  118. ** The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”**
    Anne, the gods did right by you. That’s an excellent opening!

    Reply
  119. ** The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”**
    Anne, the gods did right by you. That’s an excellent opening!

    Reply
  120. ** The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”**
    Anne, the gods did right by you. That’s an excellent opening!

    Reply
  121. I prefer prologoues, I think the best ones make you want to read it, plus the can set up the story, I like both LOS and The Last Hellion … The only ones that stand out are Julie Garwoods, historicals esp. Honor’s Splendor, I just Love that book…Tal

    Reply
  122. I prefer prologoues, I think the best ones make you want to read it, plus the can set up the story, I like both LOS and The Last Hellion … The only ones that stand out are Julie Garwoods, historicals esp. Honor’s Splendor, I just Love that book…Tal

    Reply
  123. I prefer prologoues, I think the best ones make you want to read it, plus the can set up the story, I like both LOS and The Last Hellion … The only ones that stand out are Julie Garwoods, historicals esp. Honor’s Splendor, I just Love that book…Tal

    Reply
  124. I prefer prologoues, I think the best ones make you want to read it, plus the can set up the story, I like both LOS and The Last Hellion … The only ones that stand out are Julie Garwoods, historicals esp. Honor’s Splendor, I just Love that book…Tal

    Reply
  125. I prefer prologoues, I think the best ones make you want to read it, plus the can set up the story, I like both LOS and The Last Hellion … The only ones that stand out are Julie Garwoods, historicals esp. Honor’s Splendor, I just Love that book…Tal

    Reply
  126. ** The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”**
    That is such a great opening – tell me the name of the book!!!!!!!
    Yeah I like great openings, in whatever form they take. If the first page or two don’t grab me, I’m lost forever….

    Reply
  127. ** The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”**
    That is such a great opening – tell me the name of the book!!!!!!!
    Yeah I like great openings, in whatever form they take. If the first page or two don’t grab me, I’m lost forever….

    Reply
  128. ** The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”**
    That is such a great opening – tell me the name of the book!!!!!!!
    Yeah I like great openings, in whatever form they take. If the first page or two don’t grab me, I’m lost forever….

    Reply
  129. ** The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”**
    That is such a great opening – tell me the name of the book!!!!!!!
    Yeah I like great openings, in whatever form they take. If the first page or two don’t grab me, I’m lost forever….

    Reply
  130. ** The best one The Gods ever gave me was, “I’m married?” Austin Cavanaugh opened one slightly bloodshot eye and stared at the man standing over him. Granted, Baxter knew more about most of his business than he did, but Austin doubted even Baxter would know that first. He raised himself on one elbow and fixed his lawyer with a baleful one-eyed stare. “To who?”**
    That is such a great opening – tell me the name of the book!!!!!!!
    Yeah I like great openings, in whatever form they take. If the first page or two don’t grab me, I’m lost forever….

    Reply
  131. It all depends… Voice is what hooks me most firmly, but action that draws me into the character’s troubles is a good second best – I’ll probably give the story a page at least before deciding it is or isn’t for me. I have no problem with prologues or flashbacks, no problem with quite a bit of “telling” as long as the voice is captivating. I relish some mystery about who the characters are and why they behave as they do, but again, it’s not necessary. A good back cover blurb is a huge help — if the plot and characters seem intriguing enough, I’m more likely to read several pages, regardless of how the story opens.
    Thanks for posting the stuff about Belzoni and the Egyptian Hall. I re-read Lord Perfect last week when I had the flu, so it’s great timing. Lord Perfect is, in my humble opinion, a Perfect Book, and also a great comfort read.

    Reply
  132. It all depends… Voice is what hooks me most firmly, but action that draws me into the character’s troubles is a good second best – I’ll probably give the story a page at least before deciding it is or isn’t for me. I have no problem with prologues or flashbacks, no problem with quite a bit of “telling” as long as the voice is captivating. I relish some mystery about who the characters are and why they behave as they do, but again, it’s not necessary. A good back cover blurb is a huge help — if the plot and characters seem intriguing enough, I’m more likely to read several pages, regardless of how the story opens.
    Thanks for posting the stuff about Belzoni and the Egyptian Hall. I re-read Lord Perfect last week when I had the flu, so it’s great timing. Lord Perfect is, in my humble opinion, a Perfect Book, and also a great comfort read.

    Reply
  133. It all depends… Voice is what hooks me most firmly, but action that draws me into the character’s troubles is a good second best – I’ll probably give the story a page at least before deciding it is or isn’t for me. I have no problem with prologues or flashbacks, no problem with quite a bit of “telling” as long as the voice is captivating. I relish some mystery about who the characters are and why they behave as they do, but again, it’s not necessary. A good back cover blurb is a huge help — if the plot and characters seem intriguing enough, I’m more likely to read several pages, regardless of how the story opens.
    Thanks for posting the stuff about Belzoni and the Egyptian Hall. I re-read Lord Perfect last week when I had the flu, so it’s great timing. Lord Perfect is, in my humble opinion, a Perfect Book, and also a great comfort read.

    Reply
  134. It all depends… Voice is what hooks me most firmly, but action that draws me into the character’s troubles is a good second best – I’ll probably give the story a page at least before deciding it is or isn’t for me. I have no problem with prologues or flashbacks, no problem with quite a bit of “telling” as long as the voice is captivating. I relish some mystery about who the characters are and why they behave as they do, but again, it’s not necessary. A good back cover blurb is a huge help — if the plot and characters seem intriguing enough, I’m more likely to read several pages, regardless of how the story opens.
    Thanks for posting the stuff about Belzoni and the Egyptian Hall. I re-read Lord Perfect last week when I had the flu, so it’s great timing. Lord Perfect is, in my humble opinion, a Perfect Book, and also a great comfort read.

    Reply
  135. It all depends… Voice is what hooks me most firmly, but action that draws me into the character’s troubles is a good second best – I’ll probably give the story a page at least before deciding it is or isn’t for me. I have no problem with prologues or flashbacks, no problem with quite a bit of “telling” as long as the voice is captivating. I relish some mystery about who the characters are and why they behave as they do, but again, it’s not necessary. A good back cover blurb is a huge help — if the plot and characters seem intriguing enough, I’m more likely to read several pages, regardless of how the story opens.
    Thanks for posting the stuff about Belzoni and the Egyptian Hall. I re-read Lord Perfect last week when I had the flu, so it’s great timing. Lord Perfect is, in my humble opinion, a Perfect Book, and also a great comfort read.

    Reply
  136. I don’t think a particular style of beginning suits every book. What I’m looking for in a beginning is not a particular style but something that keeps me wanting to find out more. Something that grabs my attention and says, “Hey, this could be good!” So it’s very much up to each independent story how that takes place. For the record, I like your beginnings and the variety of them. Each one suits the book it’s part of.

    Reply
  137. I don’t think a particular style of beginning suits every book. What I’m looking for in a beginning is not a particular style but something that keeps me wanting to find out more. Something that grabs my attention and says, “Hey, this could be good!” So it’s very much up to each independent story how that takes place. For the record, I like your beginnings and the variety of them. Each one suits the book it’s part of.

    Reply
  138. I don’t think a particular style of beginning suits every book. What I’m looking for in a beginning is not a particular style but something that keeps me wanting to find out more. Something that grabs my attention and says, “Hey, this could be good!” So it’s very much up to each independent story how that takes place. For the record, I like your beginnings and the variety of them. Each one suits the book it’s part of.

    Reply
  139. I don’t think a particular style of beginning suits every book. What I’m looking for in a beginning is not a particular style but something that keeps me wanting to find out more. Something that grabs my attention and says, “Hey, this could be good!” So it’s very much up to each independent story how that takes place. For the record, I like your beginnings and the variety of them. Each one suits the book it’s part of.

    Reply
  140. I don’t think a particular style of beginning suits every book. What I’m looking for in a beginning is not a particular style but something that keeps me wanting to find out more. Something that grabs my attention and says, “Hey, this could be good!” So it’s very much up to each independent story how that takes place. For the record, I like your beginnings and the variety of them. Each one suits the book it’s part of.

    Reply
  141. I love both prologues and epilogues. I struggled with using one in my own writing and ended up putting it aside. In that case, it helped me get to know the H/H but did nothing for the story. This was not the case with LOS. The prologue spoke volumes to what made Dain the man he was.
    How does one start a book in the middle? Is it to ensure you have a sense of where the story will go and where it will end? It would be an interesting exercise.

    Reply
  142. I love both prologues and epilogues. I struggled with using one in my own writing and ended up putting it aside. In that case, it helped me get to know the H/H but did nothing for the story. This was not the case with LOS. The prologue spoke volumes to what made Dain the man he was.
    How does one start a book in the middle? Is it to ensure you have a sense of where the story will go and where it will end? It would be an interesting exercise.

    Reply
  143. I love both prologues and epilogues. I struggled with using one in my own writing and ended up putting it aside. In that case, it helped me get to know the H/H but did nothing for the story. This was not the case with LOS. The prologue spoke volumes to what made Dain the man he was.
    How does one start a book in the middle? Is it to ensure you have a sense of where the story will go and where it will end? It would be an interesting exercise.

    Reply
  144. I love both prologues and epilogues. I struggled with using one in my own writing and ended up putting it aside. In that case, it helped me get to know the H/H but did nothing for the story. This was not the case with LOS. The prologue spoke volumes to what made Dain the man he was.
    How does one start a book in the middle? Is it to ensure you have a sense of where the story will go and where it will end? It would be an interesting exercise.

    Reply
  145. I love both prologues and epilogues. I struggled with using one in my own writing and ended up putting it aside. In that case, it helped me get to know the H/H but did nothing for the story. This was not the case with LOS. The prologue spoke volumes to what made Dain the man he was.
    How does one start a book in the middle? Is it to ensure you have a sense of where the story will go and where it will end? It would be an interesting exercise.

    Reply
  146. Often I cheat and skip the prologue. Much of the information in the prologue comes out in the text. If I enjoy a book, I will go back and read the prologue when I have finished the book and am missing the characters.

    Reply
  147. Often I cheat and skip the prologue. Much of the information in the prologue comes out in the text. If I enjoy a book, I will go back and read the prologue when I have finished the book and am missing the characters.

    Reply
  148. Often I cheat and skip the prologue. Much of the information in the prologue comes out in the text. If I enjoy a book, I will go back and read the prologue when I have finished the book and am missing the characters.

    Reply
  149. Often I cheat and skip the prologue. Much of the information in the prologue comes out in the text. If I enjoy a book, I will go back and read the prologue when I have finished the book and am missing the characters.

    Reply
  150. Often I cheat and skip the prologue. Much of the information in the prologue comes out in the text. If I enjoy a book, I will go back and read the prologue when I have finished the book and am missing the characters.

    Reply
  151. I also like the way prologoues set up the stories. They give you something to think about even before you start reading the first chapter.
    I want to see a relationship build before the get together. When it happens to fast there is no tension and nothing to anticipate!

    Reply
  152. I also like the way prologoues set up the stories. They give you something to think about even before you start reading the first chapter.
    I want to see a relationship build before the get together. When it happens to fast there is no tension and nothing to anticipate!

    Reply
  153. I also like the way prologoues set up the stories. They give you something to think about even before you start reading the first chapter.
    I want to see a relationship build before the get together. When it happens to fast there is no tension and nothing to anticipate!

    Reply
  154. I also like the way prologoues set up the stories. They give you something to think about even before you start reading the first chapter.
    I want to see a relationship build before the get together. When it happens to fast there is no tension and nothing to anticipate!

    Reply
  155. I also like the way prologoues set up the stories. They give you something to think about even before you start reading the first chapter.
    I want to see a relationship build before the get together. When it happens to fast there is no tension and nothing to anticipate!

    Reply
  156. **How does one start a book in the middle? Is it to ensure you have a sense of where the story will go and where it will end? It would be an interesting exercise.**
    It sure would be for me. But if a truly compelling scene or series of events is in the middle of the story, it’s interesting to start there, then later show the events that led up to it. But it is challenging to make this go smoothly, since you need to do flashbacks or scenes titled “Three months earlier.”

    Reply
  157. **How does one start a book in the middle? Is it to ensure you have a sense of where the story will go and where it will end? It would be an interesting exercise.**
    It sure would be for me. But if a truly compelling scene or series of events is in the middle of the story, it’s interesting to start there, then later show the events that led up to it. But it is challenging to make this go smoothly, since you need to do flashbacks or scenes titled “Three months earlier.”

    Reply
  158. **How does one start a book in the middle? Is it to ensure you have a sense of where the story will go and where it will end? It would be an interesting exercise.**
    It sure would be for me. But if a truly compelling scene or series of events is in the middle of the story, it’s interesting to start there, then later show the events that led up to it. But it is challenging to make this go smoothly, since you need to do flashbacks or scenes titled “Three months earlier.”

    Reply
  159. **How does one start a book in the middle? Is it to ensure you have a sense of where the story will go and where it will end? It would be an interesting exercise.**
    It sure would be for me. But if a truly compelling scene or series of events is in the middle of the story, it’s interesting to start there, then later show the events that led up to it. But it is challenging to make this go smoothly, since you need to do flashbacks or scenes titled “Three months earlier.”

    Reply
  160. **How does one start a book in the middle? Is it to ensure you have a sense of where the story will go and where it will end? It would be an interesting exercise.**
    It sure would be for me. But if a truly compelling scene or series of events is in the middle of the story, it’s interesting to start there, then later show the events that led up to it. But it is challenging to make this go smoothly, since you need to do flashbacks or scenes titled “Three months earlier.”

    Reply
  161. I love surprising beginnings – it doesn’t matter if it is a prologue or not – the ones that right from the start tell you something UNUSUAL about a hero and a heroine: I loved how in Lord of Scoundrels the prologue showed us an UGLY hero and how his childhood marked him; I love how in the Prize, by Julie Garwood, our first glimpse of the heroine is when she is about to hit the hero in the head using her sling; or in Miss Wonderful when Alistair is summoned to his father’ office to talk about the Episodes of Stupidity – what a great introduction to a hero that was!
    I once read a biography by a Brazilian writer (which I can’t recall the name right now, sorry) where he says that he always wanted to start a book with: ” “Damn”, said the reverend Mother “. LOL.

    Reply
  162. I love surprising beginnings – it doesn’t matter if it is a prologue or not – the ones that right from the start tell you something UNUSUAL about a hero and a heroine: I loved how in Lord of Scoundrels the prologue showed us an UGLY hero and how his childhood marked him; I love how in the Prize, by Julie Garwood, our first glimpse of the heroine is when she is about to hit the hero in the head using her sling; or in Miss Wonderful when Alistair is summoned to his father’ office to talk about the Episodes of Stupidity – what a great introduction to a hero that was!
    I once read a biography by a Brazilian writer (which I can’t recall the name right now, sorry) where he says that he always wanted to start a book with: ” “Damn”, said the reverend Mother “. LOL.

    Reply
  163. I love surprising beginnings – it doesn’t matter if it is a prologue or not – the ones that right from the start tell you something UNUSUAL about a hero and a heroine: I loved how in Lord of Scoundrels the prologue showed us an UGLY hero and how his childhood marked him; I love how in the Prize, by Julie Garwood, our first glimpse of the heroine is when she is about to hit the hero in the head using her sling; or in Miss Wonderful when Alistair is summoned to his father’ office to talk about the Episodes of Stupidity – what a great introduction to a hero that was!
    I once read a biography by a Brazilian writer (which I can’t recall the name right now, sorry) where he says that he always wanted to start a book with: ” “Damn”, said the reverend Mother “. LOL.

    Reply
  164. I love surprising beginnings – it doesn’t matter if it is a prologue or not – the ones that right from the start tell you something UNUSUAL about a hero and a heroine: I loved how in Lord of Scoundrels the prologue showed us an UGLY hero and how his childhood marked him; I love how in the Prize, by Julie Garwood, our first glimpse of the heroine is when she is about to hit the hero in the head using her sling; or in Miss Wonderful when Alistair is summoned to his father’ office to talk about the Episodes of Stupidity – what a great introduction to a hero that was!
    I once read a biography by a Brazilian writer (which I can’t recall the name right now, sorry) where he says that he always wanted to start a book with: ” “Damn”, said the reverend Mother “. LOL.

    Reply
  165. I love surprising beginnings – it doesn’t matter if it is a prologue or not – the ones that right from the start tell you something UNUSUAL about a hero and a heroine: I loved how in Lord of Scoundrels the prologue showed us an UGLY hero and how his childhood marked him; I love how in the Prize, by Julie Garwood, our first glimpse of the heroine is when she is about to hit the hero in the head using her sling; or in Miss Wonderful when Alistair is summoned to his father’ office to talk about the Episodes of Stupidity – what a great introduction to a hero that was!
    I once read a biography by a Brazilian writer (which I can’t recall the name right now, sorry) where he says that he always wanted to start a book with: ” “Damn”, said the reverend Mother “. LOL.

    Reply
  166. Sex scenes in the first few pages does not make for interesting beginnings. I like a bit of ingormation about the times or the characters or the situation that occurs that provides the storyline.

    Reply
  167. Sex scenes in the first few pages does not make for interesting beginnings. I like a bit of ingormation about the times or the characters or the situation that occurs that provides the storyline.

    Reply
  168. Sex scenes in the first few pages does not make for interesting beginnings. I like a bit of ingormation about the times or the characters or the situation that occurs that provides the storyline.

    Reply
  169. Sex scenes in the first few pages does not make for interesting beginnings. I like a bit of ingormation about the times or the characters or the situation that occurs that provides the storyline.

    Reply
  170. Sex scenes in the first few pages does not make for interesting beginnings. I like a bit of ingormation about the times or the characters or the situation that occurs that provides the storyline.

    Reply
  171. Hi right back at ya Loretta. I guess I should have put my last name in. Next time I will. I don’t think I see it alot on blogs that I look at. Love reading about some of the books here and how some of them start out.

    Reply
  172. Hi right back at ya Loretta. I guess I should have put my last name in. Next time I will. I don’t think I see it alot on blogs that I look at. Love reading about some of the books here and how some of them start out.

    Reply
  173. Hi right back at ya Loretta. I guess I should have put my last name in. Next time I will. I don’t think I see it alot on blogs that I look at. Love reading about some of the books here and how some of them start out.

    Reply
  174. Hi right back at ya Loretta. I guess I should have put my last name in. Next time I will. I don’t think I see it alot on blogs that I look at. Love reading about some of the books here and how some of them start out.

    Reply
  175. Hi right back at ya Loretta. I guess I should have put my last name in. Next time I will. I don’t think I see it alot on blogs that I look at. Love reading about some of the books here and how some of them start out.

    Reply

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