This time of year many writers and readers judge entries in writing contests. This can be manuscript pages or published novels. When I have time, I enjoy judging. For those yet to be published manuscripts, it's an opportunity to encourage and pass along information gleaned during my many years learning the craft. When judging published novels, I am often reminded of something to improve my own writing.
Most important to me is that first impression.
It's rather like the first meeting of the hero and heroine. The relationship can get off to a solid or shaky start all because of first impressions.
So too with books. Whether yet-to-be-published or already published, that first impression is vital. Over the years I've read several books for contests that I would not have finished if I hadn't had to judge them. Overall, the story had depth and proved engaging, but that first impression? Not so good. Since my time is valuable, I don't hang in for long waiting for the story to pick up. We have to assume our readers feel the same way. And that's made me think long and hard about my beginnings. They might need a little polishing up.
So... What draws you to a book? What makes you set one down? How long do you persevere before giving up on a story? This writer wants to know!
Mail Order Sweetheart (LIH, June 2017)
Freedom's Price (Revell, June 2017)