>Ok – our great openings. We all love them, right? We all want to read a book that has a fantastic opening. And for a writer – we all want to create an opening that grasps our readers attention. But not only that – we want to draw our reader in.

Did you know that our responsibility as a writer is to ‘earn’ our reader’s interest? This isn’t something we strive to achieve just once either. Nope, no siree. Our responsibility as a writer is to ‘earn’ our reader’s interest PAGE BY PAGE.  Don’t just take my advice for it – that came straight from Rachelle Gardner’s mouth! I promise!

What does a great open have then (since that’s what this post is about).

First off you need tension and conflict to be evident in the first paragraph. There’s no guarantee your reader will read beyond that – so grab them. Which means – you need to connect with the reader.

Then you need your voice. Yes, that dreaded voice that we all strive to attain. Do you realize that it’s your voice that draws agents and readers to your book? Rachelle Gardner identified voice as “the expression of ‘YOU’ on the page. Your way of expressing things, not anyone elses.

Then of course you need to know your craft. Show vs. tell, pacing, dialogue and characterization.

Here are 7 things to avoid in an opening page – read this carefully. Does your first page have any of these things?

1. Cliche’s
2. Prologues (they need to be well done – but if you’re starting off, don’t do them)
3. Introducing characters that aren’t relevant to your story
4. Dreams/funerals/death – they are overdone, over kill – find a new way
5. Slow writing
6. Too much description – this is when you are telling
7. Too much dialogue

Ok – so now we know WHAT to avoid. But what should it have instead. Well, here’s a handy check list from the fabulous agent herself 🙂 (you don’t have to have all of these …)

Does it have conflict? Tension? Action? Vivid imagery? Hint of suspense? Something funny? Theological observation? Make the reader wonder but not confused? Introduce something sinister or evil?

Ok – now before we finish – I have a few words of wisdom that I received at the conference. Don’t stress out about your first lines! Sometimes they won’t come to you until AFTER you finish your book! LOL