Thanks to everybody for the positive response to the first scene of The Star Prophecy. It’s always such a gamble, putting that first scene out there, but also, as a writer, kind of a rush.
I think almost without exception, a first scene is never the strongest scene in a book– for all that we newbie writers have the importance of the first scene drilled into our heads. Yes, the first scene is important. Sure, it’s probably often times critical, but it isn’t usually the best scene in a book. Here’s why: it doesn’t have much reader emotion attached to it. Even if the character is in a highly emotionally charged situation, the reader doesn’t yet know the characters, hasn’t yet watched them struggle, and isn’t yet emotionally invested in the story. I have started many books that I never finish or never finish at the time. Sometimes, I’m just not in the mood for that story at that time. Or maybe I just read a book with a similar setting and I have a hankering for something different. I almost never quit reading a book because the first scene is awful. But then, I’m a
writer myself, so possibly I’m more lenient than most.
What I do want from a first scene is a sense of the author’s voice and the tone of the book. I also want to know something about the characters that will make me care enough about them to keep reading the second scene. I’m currently reading the latest Bridget Jones. Helen Fielding is a master of putting voice and character on the first page in a way that makes it seem effortless and natural. I recently hosted author Nan Reinhardthere, and her first seen in Once More from the Top is an example of a great first scene that made me care about the main character and spurred me to keep reading.
What are your thoughts on first scenes? Are you the impatient type that has to be hooked or else you move on to another tempting book? What books had first scenes that you still remember long after you read the final scene?