Thursday, April 3, 2014

2 Inspired Openings: Have a Distinct Personality on The Page by Lucy Connors

Lucy Connors makes her YA debut with a sweeping tale a la Romeo and Juliet with THE LONESOME YOUNG. I for one, can't resist books that are all about star-crossed lovers, and from what early readers are saying, Lucy's new book delivers romance in a beautiful story. THE LONESOME YOUNG comes out on April 8th!

Have a Distinct Personality on The Page by Lucy Connors

I loved the idea of this column, because openings have always been one of the most important part of a book to me. They’re the first impression, the first date, the first kiss. The sparkle and magic that draws a reader into your world, eager to experience more, more, more.

So why would you ever waste this opportunity with a discussion of the weather?

No! Grab the reader by the throat, or charm his or her pants off. Be funny or be poignant or be scary or be suspenseful, depending on the tone of your book. Make sure your unique writer’s voice—your personality on the page—shines through.

I once had a college writing professor contact me to say he was using the opening lines of my romantic comedy 7 Ways to Lose Your Lover (written as Alesia Holliday), as an example of how to immediately hook the readers. I was equal parts thrilled and freaked out, because I’d recently come out of life as a Very Serious Trial Lawyer, and the book in question began:

In case you’ve ever wondered, desperation smells exactly like purple passion fruit warming body oil. Fruity and a little rancid.

This didn’t come out of nowhere, of course. My main character was desperate in many areas in her life, and she was dealing with a vastly over-ordered shipment of purple body oil. Madness ensued!

You don’t want to charm the reader with a false sense of your book and then dump them into a book that’s entirely different. Don’t begin funny if your book isn’t. Don’t begin with a cliffhanger if you’re book isn’t suspenseful.

In my young adult fiction debut as Lucy Connors, The Lonesome Young, coming from Razorbill on April 8th, the book is a gritty contemporary book that has elements of the Hatfields and McCoys, set in today’s world. My protagonists Mickey and Victoria suffer a series of devastating difficulties, and fall in love in spite of the hatred between their two families. If I’d written a cute or funny opening to that book, it would have been lying to my readers. Instead, it opens like this:

Sometimes even other people’s failures can taste like shame in the back of your throat.

In writing this column, I was struck by the realization that I often use the five senses in openings – “desperation smells like” – “failures can taste like” – “Getting stabbed is hell on the dry-cleaning bill” (from The Cursed, by me as Alyssa Day), which is of course the sense of pain, but the dryness of “hell on the dry-cleaning bill” echoes the tone of that lead character perfectly (he’s an immortal wizard who has been through much worse). The use of the five senses offers you another opportunity to pull your reader into a full-body immersion into your story. We’ve all smelled rancid; we’ve all felt that knot of shame in the back of our throats. It’s another way for your reader to empathize with, and care about, your characters, and emotional engagement is crucial to a book’s success.

A lot of writers and lecturers suggest you make a promise with your first line, and I can see that. But I’d suggest (hey, I’m a romance writer!) that you entice them. Hook them. Seduce them into your book, your world, your characters.

And then never, ever let them go.

About The Author

Lucy Connors is the YA pen name of Alesia Holliday, who writes critically acclaimed nonfiction and romantic comedy as herself and writes New York Times and USA Today bestselling paranormal romance for adults as Alyssa Day. She is very proud to have won Romance Writers of America’s coveted RITA award for excellence in romance fiction (as Alesia) and RT BookClub’s Reviewer’s Choice award for best paranormal romance novel of 2012 (as Alyssa), among many other awards, none of which impress her two children. She has also been nominated for “Most Likely to Order Pizza for Dinner” while on deadline (as Lucy).

In her former life, Lucy graduated from Ohio State University (go, Buckeyes!) and then graduated summa cum laude from Capital University Law School in Ohio and practiced as a trial lawyer for a while before coming to her senses and letting the voices in her head loose on paper. She currently lives in Florida, but has previously lived in a dozen or more states and three foreign countries. You can usually find her at her desk, surrounded by a varying number of rescue dogs, or at the movies, although she will deny that last bit if her agent or editor calls.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

About The Book

Get swept away in the first book of the sensational romantic drama that is Romeo & Juliet meets Justified.

WHAT HAPPENS when the teenage heirs of two bitterly FEUDING FAMILIES can’t stay away from each other?

The Rhodales and the Whitfields have been sworn enemies for close on a hundred years, with a whole slew of adulterous affairs, financial backstabbing, and blackmailing that’s escalated the rivalry to its current state of tense ceasefire.


And now a meth lab explosion in rural Whitfield County is set to reignite the feud more viciously than ever before. Especially when the toxic fire that results throws together two unlikely spectators—proper good girl Victoria Whitfield, exiled from boarding school after her father’s real estate business melts down in disgrace, and town motorcycle rebel Mickey Rhodale, too late as always to thwart his older brothers’ dangerous drug deals.

Victoria and Mickey are about to find out the most passionate romances are the forbidden ones.

. . . ON A POWDER KEG FULL OF PENT-UP DESIRE, risk-taking daredevilry, and the desperate actions that erupt when a generation of teens inherits nothing but hate.

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads


  1. I agree, personality on the page is the best way to go.

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