You don’t have much time. Whatever it is you are writing, you must tease the reader from the get-go so that they are craving s’more.
I recently spoke to a business group in Newburyport, MA. I spoke about how to get your reader’s attention. I started out my talk with the first line in an article I wrote that was published in Salon.com and reprinted in Working Mother magazine’s 35th anniversary issue. Here is a link. The first line is a hook and bait. Here it is: I didn’t mean to put the tampons in my seven-year-old son’s backpack.
Remember, you must come up with something clever, funny, gripping, frightening, shocking, intriguing…. And it must be well-written. Have fun with your ideas. You can come up with your first line or first paragraph (or ledes, in journalism it is called a lede, not a lead) while running or walking the beach. Or driving. Make your words dance.
Okay, so you have probably heard that writers often write about what they know.
When I co-authored Rum & Razors, the second Murder, She Wrote novel I wrote with my father, Donald Bain, I opened the book up with an experience that happened to my mother, Jackie, and father, when I was about nine.
Jessica Fletcher’s experience parallels what my parents experienced. It was actually very frightening and my parents had to call in the FBI to our house! It was a scary time because my dad was involved in writing a controversial book about the CIA and model Candy Jones and so we thought we were being targeted. I wasn’t allowed to walk to and from school or hang out outside. Turns out it was a prank created by good friends of my parents through a community theatre group they were involved with in Westbury, NY, on Long Island
The point is this: I used a real life experience in the opening pages of the Murder, She Wrote novel. Fun, right?
Write about what you know. Yes. Go for it!
Below is a link to the scene in Rum & Razors. Enjoy! You will learn that GLOTCOYB in Rum & Razors stands for Good Luck On The Completion of Your Book. But in the real-life episode in my house, it stood for Good Luck On The Completion of Your Basement, because my father was renovating the basement in our small modest house. Crazy.
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Bundle up, hook arms and admire the City’s festive window displays. New York is absolutely magical during the holidays. The spirit is cheerful, little shops are wrapped in ribbons and lights and the biggest stores are totally decked out for the holidays through New Years. Grab a cup of steamy cocoa and hit the pavement, fa la la la la, la la la la. Here’s a little, self-guided walking tour.
Begin at the Lord and Taylor windows (38th and 5th Avenue; 212/391- 3344 at Fifth Avenue).
Walk north up Fifth Avenue, past the New York Public Library, to the Saks Fifth Avenue windows at 611 Fifth Avenue (at 49th Street; 212/ 753-4000).
Cross the street to admire the larger-than-life Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Continue walking north up Fifth Avenue to Bergdorf Goodman’s windows at 754 Fifth Avenue (at 58th Street).
Walk one block east to Madison Avenue and then three blocks north to the windows at Barney’s at 600 Madison Avenue; 212-826-8900.
If you want to take in Bloomingdale’s windows (at 100 Third Avenue), walk two blocks south to 59th Street and then a couple of avenues east to Third Avenue.
Note: The Macy’s window displays are also engaging. Macy’s is located at Herald Square and Broadway between 34th and 35th streets.
New York City dazzles in December with lights, ribbons, carols and jingles. And then there’s this:
Manhattans and Murder is the Murder, She Wrote novel I co-wrote with Donald Bain, my father. I’ve written several with him and this was the second in the series–and now there are 42 novels. And all the novels I wrote with him are still in print and selling strong.
Manhattans and Murder is a great read for those who love a little mystery, a little Jessica and a little NYC at Christmastime. Jessica comes to Manhattan for a visit and guess what happens? She also visits Sea Cliff, the sweet town on the Long Island Sound where I lived at the time I wrote the scene. It’s about 25 miles from Manhattan.
So, if you feel like a little Christmas, a little mystery and a little New York City, cozy up with this cozy mystery! Oh, and this novel came out awhile ago, but was reissued more recently. How do you like them apples? Also, I have two engagements coming up after the holidays where I’ll be speaking about writing the books, as well as my other writing. I’ll fill you in, so stay tuned.
Thanks, spread the love this holiday. Make it good day and a better day for someone else. Especially your children and grandchildren 🙂
Got kids? New York City hearts kids! Here are my picks for the top ten best spots. I wrote this piece for travelmuse several years back but it is evergreen (for the most part.) Note: I would certainly add a couple more spots like the 9/11 museum and High Line (although not for little kids, best for tweens and teens.) http://www.travelmuse.com/articles/new-york/ten-spots-for-kids