When A Book Starts Off Poorly
When a book usually starts off bad, it usually continues in this 'eye-rolling' vein until the very end. Some of these books, at most, have a good plot, but the poor writing is to the extent that it drives the reader away, looking to find something more worthwhile to spend hours with.
I'm very blunt, as you can see, but try and stay with me. If you are an aspiring writer or an indie author who has published but your book isn't selling like you thought it would, please continue reading. I'm a fiction coach who has helped others, as well as a published author whose debut book has reached Amazon's top 100 paid bestsellers. I'm also an avid reader and book reviewer with a decent rank on Amazon.
What makes a poor book beginning? I will give you several taken from recent books I have purchased. Unfortunately, these books were written by indie authors. However, I have read some fantastic indie books which I have rated 4 and 5 stars!
Examples of a poor beginning:
1. Too much narration.
These are the books where the author feels they can't get to the storyline until they explain every little thing about the main or sub characters mentioned in a scene. Picture someone at an amusement park, will you? They've waded through the books to purchase, have stood in line or paid online to begin reading. Once they crack open your book, they want to be entertained by a thrilling ride. Imagine them buckled into the seat of a rollercoaster, and instead of the rollercoaster operator (the writer in this case) hitting the switch to shoot them forward into mind-boggling glee, the operator is on the loud speaker explaining what type of rails the coaster will be moving on, the scenery to pay attention to while they're traveling at g-force speed, who built the craft and how they felt when they built it.
Get to the action. I beg you. Explain things as you go along, and only if it needs explaining. If you're unsure if you need to explain something, remember that your readers are quite intelligent and have the ability to figure some things out for themselves.
2. Horrible Flow
FLOW is very important to each book. It should be smooth. While reading, your reader should glide like a fish in calm water. Have someone who reads often preview your story for feedback. An avid reader will tell you why your book is different from other books they've read. I listen to all of the people that offer me feedback on my novels. Feedback, at times, can be crucial and are very important. Not adhering to them may be the difference from a 2 star review and a 5.
Milieu is the physical background of the scene you are writing. Never start your book off with a character sitting in a room or a car or anywhere thinking of what happened in the past or the present day. The reader hasn't gotten to know your character long enough to care. It makes a slow and bad beginning and nine times out of ten, the reader will put your book down to begin on another with a more captivating start.
What makes a good book opening? Action, great dialogue and the type of flow where the readers feels from the first words that they are in for an interesting ride.
Poor Beginning Examples:
Peggy sat in a chair in the library with a cup of tea in her hand thinking about everything that happened the day before. (This lacks tension, excitement)
How can you make this better, you ask?
"If you don't get out of my face right goddamned now, I'll put my cigarette out on your cheek and scar that pretty face of yours!"
The teacup rattled in Peggy's hand as Vanessa's words slammed into her brain like a big rig colliding into a Ford Festiva.
Do you see the difference? Tension is key. The right flow is necessary. I'm giving small examples. If you need just a little more, contact me on my contact page. I provide one-on-one coaching all the time.
Another example of a poor beginning...
Jack stood at the dock. His dog, Fido, who he'd first gotten when Fido was 2 weeks old and haven't left his side since, stood when he saw the tall man approaching. Jack turned to the guy. He was very tall and looked familiar. Once he recognized him, he thought to himself that he would have rather ran into anyone else that early morning. (Too much narration which interrupts the flow)
How to make this better?
His dog, Killer, leapt on hind legs, baring teeth sharper than the devil's tongue, growling as Remo got way too close to his master.
Do I even need to add more? The difference is obvious. Flow wins over narration any time.