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View Full Version : First Page Attention Grabber --- Urban Fantasy



Razzazzika
November 17th, 2010, 03:33 AM
Not every book, but a lot of books have a single page before the actual book begins that shows you a random excerpt from within the book that doesn't spoil anything, but is meant to grab your attention and make you want to read the book. This is my attempt at making said attention grabber by using my favorite character from the book, the comic relief/bumbling sidekick making a dramatic entrance.

This past year has been hell, but this week tops it all..
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“Man! The drama is intense in this place!” said a voice from behind me. I slowly turned away from the argument I was having with my wife to see the tiny man lounging on my blue La-Z-Boy. He stuffed his mouth with a handful of popcorn from the bag in his hand and wiped butter off on his pants.

“What the hell are you doing here, Bruce?” I shouted, wondering why he followed me into my home. I swore that I locked the door behind me, but that didn't seem to stop this miscreant.

“I told you,” he explained, “you're the first person in three years to see me, I need the company.”

I turned back to my wife who's eyes seemed to have glazed over while I wasn't paying attention to her. When my focus returned to her, she snapped back to consciousness and asked, “What were you looking at?”

I looked back at Bruce confused, but was even more befuddled at what came crawling out of the kitchen and onto the ceiling. I was quickly reminded of the movie Gremlins and what the cute furry gremlin looked like after it had water spilled on it... only the size of Bruce. It was an evil, green looking thing with long pointed ears and big, slanted black eyes. It's teeth and claws were all quite sharp, and it skittered on all fours.

I heard a sharp intake of breath from Reagan, meaning she saw it to. I could only guess that it was taking her brain a bit longer than mine to process the creature's existence.

“Oh,” Bruce said, nonchalantly, “I may have accidentally turned your microwave into a gremlin.”

KrisMunro
November 17th, 2010, 03:55 AM
I think that last paragraph should be the first. Switch a few sections about and you'll have the same story, but with an attention grabbing intro that tells more about your writing style and story content than anything else there.

I didn't get a feel for this being similar to Terry Pratchett until that last sentence. And that left me uncertain about how I should be interpreting the evil green thing.. I half expected a violent and gruesome battle. And I couldn't grasp how it was walking on the ceiling. Knowing there's comedic humour in there allows the reader to be more forgiving of minor details like this.

Razzazzika
November 17th, 2010, 03:45 PM
The whole book is not a comedy, but rather the character is the constant comic relief, he's always doing something to make the main character want to slap him upside the face.

As for the 'how it was crawling on the ceiling', I was more envisioning it just digging its claws in and making a mess of the place, The gremlin being light enough that it didn't tear the whole roof down. Should have probably said 'digging its claws into the plaster' somewhere in there.

As for violent and gruesome battle... that comes after that part in the book, but the point is to make the reader want to buy the book to read that part.

KrisMunro
November 18th, 2010, 12:30 AM
but the point is to make the reader want to buy the bookYou lost me when I thought of it as a comedic fantasy (despite liking some of Terry Pratchett's work), even if it's just one character throwing in odd lines here and there. But that's just my personal interests.

You may find that the insertion of comic relief displaces the reader. They forget for a moment that the main character and his wife are about to be attacked by a 'gremlin', and they contemplate the mechanics behind magic turning a microwave into a beast the size of a man. Sure, it's humorous, but it makes the action in the story less real. You've diverted the reader's attention away from what (I'm assuming) is important.

So I'd ask whether it's the comedy that's more important than the events. Is your aim to make your readers laugh rather than engage them in (momentary) suspenseful action?

There's likely a way for you to include that humour, but restrict it to events that aren't life threatening nor related to progressing your story.

Razzazzika
November 18th, 2010, 05:30 PM
they contemplate the mechanics behind magic turning a microwave into a beast the size of a man.

See, the fun thing about the character I've created, and of course without reading the book or me outright telling you, is that the laws of the universe don't apply to Bruce. Weird crap like that happens to him on a day to day basis. And that's why he takes things with such a light heart and goes by with an 'F#&% it all attitude'.

depcrestwood
November 22nd, 2010, 06:58 PM
One issue I have is in describing the gremlin, you kind of admit to the reader you're borrowing (at least some of) the design from an '80s movie. Let your description paint the picture of the gremlin, not a reference of basically the same creature somebody else thought up. It's okay for them to be similar ... gremlins are gremlins, after all ... but it kind of cuts credibility as a storyteller if you can't bring out the pictures yourself.

Razzazzika
November 22nd, 2010, 09:10 PM
The description was more of an afterthought, really. Originally I had only said 'I was quickly reminded of the movie Gremlins and what the cute furry gremlin looked like after it had water spilled on it...', but then realized, if someone had never saw the movie, they would have no clue what I was talking about, so I thought I should describe it as well. I wasn't sure as well whether to call it a gremlin or a goblin also, but I was thinking if it was a gremlin then that could mean that the film producers had insight into the fantasy realm. (Kinda had something to do with my 3rd book in the series actually, but that's far too in depth to get into here considering i'm only physically writing the first at the moment)

slade75
November 22nd, 2010, 10:51 PM
If I'm honest it didn't really grab my attention. This is mostly, down to personal taste on my part though, and not the writing.


He stuffed his mouth with a handful of popcorn from the bag in his hand and wiped butter off on his pants. Just a little gripe to ease me in... I don't care where the bag of popcorn was (unless it's vital to the story of course) for me, this is in on a par with "I thought to myself". There are only a few stories where you need need to specify who you were thinking to, otherwise simply "I thought" would do.


“I told you,” he explained, “you're the first person in three years to see me, I need the company.” Now for me, that's an attention grabber. Love this line, why has it been three years? where has he been? Posing some questions, that have definitely intrigued me.


I looked back at Bruce confused, but was even more befuddled at what came crawling out of the kitchen and onto the ceiling. I was quickly reminded of the movie Gremlins and what the cute furry gremlin looked like after it had water spilled on it... only the size of Bruce. It was an evil, green looking thing with long pointed ears and big, slanted black eyes. It's teeth and claws were all quite sharp, and it skittered on all fours. I agree with a previous reply regarding the reference to the movie. Leave it out, if your description prompts the reader to bring this to mind then all well and good, if they conjure up a different image, who's to say that's not better? I get that you had the movie in mind when writing, but let that come out - if you want it to come out - in your descriptions.

Although it didn't grab my attention, I am moderately intrigued.

On a final note, I agree with Kris. Put the last paragraph first, and I think you start grabbing attention early on.

Razzazzika
November 23rd, 2010, 09:30 PM
advice taken, I shall fiddle with the structure to make the microwave gremlin comment first, and remove the reference to the movie. Got two people agreeing on those points.

romero
November 24th, 2010, 09:09 PM
I thought it was interesting, but like depcrestwod said: I wouldn't mention the movie Gremlins, just describe the creature. When I read a book I like to build the picture in my head myself.