Guest Post

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Guest author Kathy Aarons tells us why she loves opening lines

cj Sez:  Today's Lyrical Pens guest post is by...
. . . bestselling author Kathy Aarons (welcome, Kathy). Kathy is writing about one of my favorite writing concerns—opening lines—and tells us how opening lines lead the reader into the story. Check it out . . . .
 
I Love Opening Lines

One of my favorite parts of writing cozy mysteries is crafting the opening line. In Behind Chocolate Bars, the first line is, “We need more zombies.”

It’s spoken by the main character, chocolatier Michelle Serrano, to Erica Russell, her business partner and the manager of the bookstore half of their shop, Chocolates and Chapters. They are discussing the upcoming West Riverdale Halloween Festival which they are organizing.

First lines have to do a lot of work! They must interest the reader in the book and let them know what to expect—it also helps if they can add an element of surprise as well.

With this line, we know that the book will be humorous, and that (along with the beautiful cover art) it will most like center around Halloween. The humor comes from the unexpected idea of zombies in a cozy mystery.
 
In my unpublished mystery, PTA Meetings Are Murder, the opening lines are, “My name is Tiffany. For that alone, I could kill my parents.” It was used by Chris Roerden in her book Don’t Sabotage Your Submission as an example of how to open your book and effectively introduce your main character.

I spend a lot of time considering opening lines and once I come up with one I love, it usually doesn’t change, even through many edits.  

In The Trouble With Murder, the working title of my upcoming series with Kensington Books, I open with, “A chicken rang my doorbell.” For me, it does what I’d like it to do—intrigue and surprise the reader, and let them know a bit about what the book will be.

With a line like, “We need more zombies,” you know you’re in for some spooky fun!

BEHIND CHOCOLATE BARS

DOUBLE, DOUBLE-BOIL, AND TROUBLE…

Best friends and business partners Michelle and Erica have a monstrous to-do list as they prepare for the annual West Riverdale Halloween Festival. Their shop, Chocolates and Chapters, will have a booth at the event, where Michelle will serve spooky delights while Erica displays an assortment of spine-chilling books. Thank goodness the teenagers from Erica’s comic-book club are chipping in to help. But one of their volunteers winds up in trouble after a woman’s body is found in an abandoned house—with the teen’s superhero key ring close by.

The teen swears he didn’t do it, but he’s obviously hiding something—leaving Michelle and Erica with a witch’s cauldron of questions. Soon they discover that the dead woman was tricking a whole bunch of people out of more than just treats. Now these two friends must go door-to-door if they hope to unmask a killer…

KATHY AARONS is the author of the nationally bestselling CHOCOLATE COVERED MYSTERY series by Berkley Prime Crime. Research for the series was such a hardship: sampling chocolate, making chocolate, sampling more chocolate, and hanging out in bookstores.

She began writing when her youngest daughter attended school five days a week and pursued publishing more seriously when her oldest daughter went off to college. Now an empty-nester, she continues to advocate for arts education for youth, serving as president of the board of directors for Playwrights Project (http://playwrightsproject.org/), advising and teaching for the Middle School Writing Series, and volunteering for the CCA Writers’ Conference (http://ccawritersconference2016.weebly.com/), the only free writing conference for high school students in the country.

She’s also president of Partners in Crime – the San Diego chapter of Sisters in Crime, a national mystery writers’ organization (http://www.sistersincrimesd.org/ ).

You can follow Kathy on Facebook or Twitter or visit her at: www.kathyaarons.com.

cj Sez: Thank you so much, Kathy. I’m with you on the importance of first lines, and you are absolutely in sync with Stephen King, who spends months on his opening lines and once said:

“There are all sorts of theories and ideas about what constitutes a good opening line. It's tricky thing, and tough to talk about because I don't think conceptually while I work on a first draft -- I just write. To get scientific about it is a little like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar.

But there's one thing I'm sure about. An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”

Best wishes, Kathy, for great sales and marvelous reviews for Behind Chocolate Bars . . a perfect story for Halloween and beyond.

Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. And do drop us a comment and let us know how you struggle with creating that perfect opening line.

https://www.facebook.com/CjPettersonAuthor
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo
Amazon Central Author Page:  http://amzn.to/1NIDKC0

PS:  Lest you think I forgot, “More Than Friends” is a bundle of SIX romance novels available on Amazon for 99 cents…a great idea for a Holiday gift that gives hours and hours of entertainment for less than a buck!

2 comments:

  1. I loved to see this line: " my upcoming series with Kensington Books." Not an opening line, but a good one! I'm impressed with all your openers you mentioned here--great stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Kaye! I really enjoy writing them!

    ReplyDelete

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