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I laughed at how bad that was, then set the book down with no intention of reading it.
All five of us looked that way -- me, Mom, Dan, my sisters Rose and Sidney, all of our heads swiveled in masse
[FONT=&Verdana]Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited. No smoke came from the chimney, and the little lattice windows gaped forlorn. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me.
To me, that's exactly how she has captured her reader / audiobook listener - with clever and entertaining prose and MC personality. If that's the thing that involves the reader in the plot, then so be it. Other writers might use an inciting incident, or a curious deviation from the norm, or a tense moment of action, or a vivid description, to hook their reader. Just ... something. I think uncertainty around this point sets in where people think capturing the reader's attention must adhere to one form. It needn't, to my mind.
Can you share? And one of your failed first paragraphs? I like examples.
In the stairwell of the apartment on Lubyanka Square, the semi-naked man tossed his briefcase down three flights, then leapt over the banister as the door above crashed open and two men sprinted after him.
On the morning Jeff Morton found Jesús, his wife called to tell him she wanted a divorce, his son called him an asshole, and his boss called to fire him.
On the scale of 1 to 10 in interestingness, these seem to both be tens. Are you saying that the first line has to be this interesting to get out of the slush pile? I would believe that.
I am going to guess that the second start is followed by a retelling of Jeff's morning. I am also going to guess that no other chapters of your book begin with a summary of what is going to happen in that chapter.
And, I am guessing, you hope I understand that you usually don't begin your chapters with a summary of what is going to happen. And, if you are asking, if you begin all your chapter in your other book like that first start, I think you are going to have a best-seller. Unless the next sentence moves back in time.
Your starts also do a good job of advertising what your book is going to be like. The one line is high-action, and the Russian-sounding name suggests military. Written in what might be called purpleless prose.
Good writers break them all the time