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Wrapping Up Our Look at Best Seller First Pages

Sadly, I’m bringing this look at first pages to an end—at least for now. It’s been an intriguing journey looking into these twenty-six first pages of best sellers. Along with many readers of this blog, I was also surprised to see quite a few of the traditional “rules” of good scene structure broken—especially by highly successful authors.

Here are some of the observations I made, shared by numerous commenters. And I’ll reiterate a few salient points that I feel bear repeating about strong openings.

What’s a Super Author Required to Do?

First off—just because a super-author like Stephen King or John Grisham can get away with writing a boring first page featuring a blah character, that doesn’t mean other authors should copy them.

Whether such authors don’t bother or care to work harder to craft a great opening, or they’re way too busy signing books for adoring fans around the world, or they’re under too much deadline pressure, there’s no way to really know. Continue Reading…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: The Sword of Summer

For our final post that looks at best-seller first pages, we’re going to take a look at one of Rick Riordan’s Middle Grade novels. Riordan’s novels are hugely popular, playing off mythology. His new series, starting with The Sword of Summer, delves into Norse legends. I know some of you are going to be sad that I’m stopping this series, but I may come back to this later in the year.

I find the cover and title page confusing, because “Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard” are in huge letters, implying this is the novel’s title. But “The Sword of Summer” is in smaller lettering at the bottom as well as on the header inside the book. The large phrase seems to be the series title.

Riordan’s stories are fun, effervescent romps with lots of heroes and action and humor. Just the right recipe for young readers looking for escape from math homework.

We looked at literary best sellers that require readers to basically suffer and work hard to enjoy the story, as if that gives the author Brownie points. Continue Reading…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: Fire Touched

This week’s first page falls under the genres of urban fantasy, action-adventure, and romance. Author Patricia Briggs has many fantasy novels published, and this one—Fire Touched—is the ninth installment in her Mercy Thompson series.

The ever popular shapeshifters, werewolves, and fairies populate her stories. But her success with this series seems to lie with her strong female protagonist, who herself is a “coyote shapeshifter.” And the series goes deep into interpersonal relationships and in particular the romance between Mercy and Adam, who is her werewolf mate.

While the cover design, to me, lends a bit of crass with the emphasis on showing flesh (and making it clear this isn’t for young readers) and possibly hinting at erotica elements, I don’t get the impression this series is smutty. Continue Reading…

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