By Keith Fisher
Since I work nights, it’s sometimes necessary to take a nap in the evening. I was attempting to do that the other day, when something happened that taught me a lesson. I turned on the television to relax for a minute and I saw the first few minutes of a Boston Legal rerun. I never watch that show but it was Captain Kirk, what can I say.
How does writing in the LDS market relate to Boston Legal, or Captain Kirk? In almost all of my writing books, I’ve read tons about grabbing the reader’s attention in the first five to fifteen words. The writers of the Boston Legal I was watching followed the rule. They introduced four or five story questions in the first two minutes. They captured my interest. I needed to know how it came out. Fifteen minutes later, I forced myself to sleep, and I might not have, if I didn’t need to work that night. Well, there was that one particularly crude joke.
As writers, we can learn a lot from television. The lesson taught by the show I mentioned, if learned, can help me sell books. If I can grab an editor or reader’s attention in the first fifteen words, I can keep them reading the rest of the book. If they finish the first book they will came back for others.
The Earth had fifteen minutes of life left in it. That’s ten words. Doesn’t that make you want to find out why? What happened that doomed our home planet? If the Earth will be gone, what has, or will, happen to the humans who infest the planet? These are questions that would make me want to read more. Did I pique your interest with the word infest? I always find it interesting to see writers struggle with this concept. I wonder if they realize they are writers and that’s what writers do. We take the reader on a journey through the land of impossible outcomes and we bring them back again. If we can do that, writing something that grabs attention in fifteen words should be easy.
I know, I know. We worry that our intriguing first lines aren’t as intriguing as someone else’s lines. How can we possibly know what kind of story questions will excite which editor? Not every editor will be interested. In the long run, all we can do, is write the best book we can, cross our fingers, and toes. Sooner or later someone somewhere, will like it.
Good luck with your writing—see you next week.