The Importance of Your Book’s First Scene

The first impression you make on someone is vitally important. The same can be said about the importance of your book’s first scene. After writing my first draft of “Shell Game,” I came back and decided that my first scene didn’t have a strong hook. I went back to the drawing board in the rewriting process.

Do Some Soul Searching

After a day or so of soul searching, I came up with a new opening scene and revised first chapter. I actually did not realize the dramatic impact of the first scene until I let some fellow writers read it, and also, read it to my writing group. 

The rewrite accomplished several writing goals. The opening…

  • Started the story at a pivotal and suspense filled moment.
  • Introduced an unusual situation, intriguing characters and antagonists in a surprising and frightening setting.
  • Allowed me to package surprise, conflict and dread in the first encounter.

But I still wanted to up the ante of this suspenseful beginning scene. I added an unsuspecting protagonist, preoccupied with her own problems.

Up The Stakes

My job during the next chapters was to up the stakes. I needed to turn the screws to force my main character along with fellow protagonists and supporting characters to take direct action. I wanted them as deeply involved in the conflict and problems shown in the opening chapter throughout the rest of the book.

Critique Your Manuscript

When I gave my final manuscript to others for critique, I realized that I had done a good job in drawing people into the story of Shell Game. People were invested and interested in finding out what happened to the characters. I created a “whodunnit” and the question of “why.” 

Make Your Work Relatable

Shell Game has a universal element that is relatable, if not scary. The characters are placed into an unknown situation. Making matters worse, they are immediately fraught with physical danger from unknown persons and situations. 

The medical aspect of my thriller offered me some seriously creepy and gruesome means to inflict mayhem on my protagonists and their supporting characters. Being a medical “insider” has given me the ability to take what I know about hospitals and peri-operative processes and pervert it to create challenges and obstacles for my characters.

As for my next goal with my novels? I hope to invoke the same type of instant “Gotcha!” and interest that I feel I’ve created with the first chapter of Shell Game.


Series Books Create a Bond

When I originally developed the premise for Shell Game, I knew I didn’t want it to be a stand-alone book. I’ve always loved getting comfortable with a character, knowing their inner most thoughts and traveling a path with them. To me, one book is just the introduction to this special relationship. What I wanted most was to write multiple books about the same character. In my mind, series books create a bond that stays with myself and my readers.

Life Experiences Drive Characters

The “coming of age” theme that made the young adult Harry Potter series so popular was genius, but not exactly the right fit for my adult characters. I knew that their life experiences would be a driving motivation for many of their actions. I wanted to give my characters a satisfying arc and watch them develop. I also knew how I wanted each book to end and where my character’s journey would take them.

What I wasn’t prepared for was to experience a strong desire show my character’s backstory. This would provide the dramatic and thematic impetus for future Taryn Series books. But in reality, I see this not as simply a series, but a constellation of books and interwoven stories.  Surprise on me and my planning!

An Unpredictable Thrill Ride

While my female protagonist, Taryn Pirelli, is the driving factor in these books, other characters began to intrigue my imagination and demand their place in the spotlight. One of the cool things about writing thrillers is that they are just that — an unpredictable thrill ride with twists in action from one near miss to the next.

The changes in direction are also true in this case for the sequencing of other books in the world of Taryn Pirelli. Contrary to our “timelines” on social media, when it comes to series books, one can jump forward or back in time. I look forward to showing my readers what has made Taryn the woman she is today.

More “Taryn” to Come

I have early readers who have asked for “the next Taryn book”… in one case, a good natured threat was cast and compelled me to get on with it (nods and winks to my bud, SSI)!  Rest assured, the next book is well underway as is the research behind it. I’m sure it will unfold and take both myself and my readers on an unexpected trajectory. Trust me when I say there’s a necessary detour on the way. 

As one of the lines early in Shell Game references, this is going to be a journey, rather than a straight out run from start to finish. I’m already enjoying the process, and hope you choose to join me on that unpredictable journey into the void of possibilities!