Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spanking Round Table Discussion - Dynamic First Chapters, Opening Paragraphs and Narrative

Lucy Appleby is hosting today's Round Table discussion and this one is about Spanking romance and the importance of dynamic first chapters, opening paragraphs and narrative.

For my contribution, I've gone back and re-read some openings of books that have stayed with me long after reading. 

When I read any book - spanking or otherwise - if I'm not hooked within the first four, five pages (and that's long), I'm out. I always download samples before hitting the 'buy now' button but am more than willing to suspend my disbelief if the author can set the scene right and hook me immediately. 

Captive in the Dark by CJ Roberts I think this was an Amazon recommendation that I read two summers ago. I've read it five or six times by now. This one has a gorgeous cover, probably one of my all time favorites, and the premise is immediately intriguing. There were some editing issues in the book but easily forgivable as the story is just amazing. The book opens from Caleb's POV and within a few paragraphs, we realize he's sitting across the street in his car watching Livvie, the girl he is planning to kidnap and sell at the Flower Sale as a virgin sex slave. This book is done so well that I loved Caleb and wanted him to have Livvie right from the start. I mean, if you fall in love with the kidnapper as a reader then the author has done something right.

Judgment by Denise Hall is another one like that. As wrong as I knew it was, I wanted Thane to keep Mischief. I didn't want her to be rescued. It was written in such a way that even through Thane's cruelty, I wanted him to have her! 

Breeder by Cara Bristol has a great, simple opening that immediately, within the first paragraph, caught my attention. "If not for the sneeze, Dak would have exited the musty, dank corridor. When he squinted into the darkened cell, he spotted a female crouched on a straw mat in the corner..." a few sentences later, Dak asks, "what about her?"

OK, so I'm in. I can hear the sneeze and it's very cute for some reason, it opens immediately with something happening and instantly, I want to know about her too. Before Chapter One ends, Dak has already inspected Omra, spanked her and has bought her. "No one, and I mean no one, is to use her for his pleasure. She belongs to me now. Do you understand?" This closes the chapter and I've just hit the buy now button. 

The Dark Highlander by Karen Moning I've read most of Karen Marie Moning's books. First the romances then the Fever series which I would whole heartedly recommend to anyone. They are not spanking romances and aren't erotic but wow does it get hot in between those pages! This particular book opens with not one but two prologues. In the first one, Adam Black, who is "a man - of sorts"  is delivering news to his queen that the compact is broken. I have no idea what a compact is at this moment nor do I have any clue how to pronounce the queen's name, but I love anything having to do with the Fae and in this case, something big just obviously happened as the queen's words to Adam are "Summon the Council" in a voice that "dripped ice." This prologue is seven lines long and it's enough to have me wanting to know what is going on. 

I'll stop here as I keep getting caught up in the books and forgetting what I'm doing! I am not sure I've done much with the topic but point out some examples of books that hooked me right from the start. As far as the why, I think it varies. If I know an author, I'm willing to go a little longer if it doesn't grab me from the start, but if not, if you can get me to feel or to want to be there and even - maybe most importantly - if you can make me want to be the heroine, right from the first words, then you've sold me. 

There are several participants in today's hop so make sure you drop by and visit them all!


Roz said...

Hi Natasha, I'm the same, if its an author I know I'm willing to go a little further, but otherwise the opening of the story has to grab me. I haven't read the books you mention yet ... but now I'm intrigued :)


Sheri Savill said...

These are great examples, Natasha! Something about different types of openings appeals to different people. It's sort of a customized thing in so many ways. If I can "hear" the first few lines "right" in my head as I read, that makes me keep going. If I don't, then I am lazy and might stop. Very weird I am.

Casey McKay said...

I love all of your book recommendations! I love that you were getting sucked back into the books you were referencing, that is how you know they are good!
I am off to look up The Dark Highlander.

Aubrey Cara said...

I was also getting caught up in my old favorite books all over again, looking at the beginnings, trying to think of what it was about them that drew me in. At the end, when you said, "if you can get me to feel-or wanting to go there", that's exactly it for me!

Love the books you posted on. I've read the last two, but not the first two. I've been circling around Captive In The Dark, (it's so popular) but I keep getting distracted by other books, and Judgement will have to go on my list also.

Aubrey Cara said...

Warning, those Karen Marie Moning books are addictive! I've read them all, but The Dark Highlander is one of my favorites.

Celeste Jones said...

Very interesting Natasha. I've started paying more attention to the samples on Amazon than to the reviewsfor that same reason. I agree about the opening of Breeder. Brilliant!

Lucy Appleby said...

Hi Natasha
Great post. Like you I always scan a sample before hitting the buy button. You can usually tell from those first few paragraphs whether you're going to like something.
I shall certainly check out Karen Marie Moning's books. I'm not familiar with any of her works.

Rollin said...

From a writer's perspective I've come to appreciate the importance of those first few paragraphs. Because of the "look inside" feature at Amazon, those several pages are one of the "Big 3" when it comes to selling the book--the cover, the blurb, and the "look inside." The buyer is going to hit the buy button only if those first few pages are appealing. In more than one book, I've gone back and reworked the opening with that very thing in mind.

Corinne Alexander said...

While I will usually give a book 30 pages those first few paragraphs are incredibly important. I love your suggestions! The Fever series is HOT! It's one of my all time favorites. I am going to have to check out your other examples. :-)

Han van Meegeren said...

Either I like the cover or the blurb. Sometimes the cover is so great, I think: the girl in this book must look like the heroine in the book, she must :-) I am a series reader so I read all the books of one author. Even if it's a disappointing book, I think: No, I like this author's other work, it will get better. And sometimes it does, and sometimes not of course. Just a question of taste most of the time. I never read a few pages, it's a waste of time.

Renee Rose said...

Writing has evolved so much in the last ten years. When I was a kid, an adult once told me to give it FIFTY pages. I'm not kidding. Of course by the time you've read 50 pages, you're not going to stop, unless it really really sucks.

Cara Bristol said...

Wow! What a surprise to find Breeder on your list of great openings. Thank you.

I agree with you that a book has to grab me from the beginning. There are so many books out there, and so many authors whose books I want to read, I don't have time to plow through half a book before it gets interesting. I've found that the better a book is, the faster I read it. I can always make the time to read a five star book.