Friday, 2 August 2013

The 'grab' factor.

Before I get into the real reason for this blog, the Squidge family were unanimous in their choice of three items with which to challenge me; Baz's cowboy hat, zimmer frame and rocking horse. Have to say, there's the seed of an idea already germinating, and I will post it as soon as it's done - but definitely before the 9th.

So now - to the 'grab' factor.

I've got a difficult choice to make re a competition. It's for an opening chapter, and I've written something quite new. The idea for the story itself has been brewing for a while, and I've been doing that 'jotting ideas and possibilities down' stage for about a year now.

The problem is I can't seem to get the 'grab' factor into the opening, based on feedback from writer colleagues whose opinion I value. I'm not really a 'sock-it-to-'em' kind of author, y'see...I tend to build things up before I get into the real action.

Which is fine, because it's how I write and how I'm happy writing.

But it means there's something wrong with what I'm presenting, and it made me wonder. Do I really have to grab the reader by the throat and take the main character on a don't-pause-for-breath rollercoaster ride from the first page and right through the rest of the book? I know that nowadays, folk generally seem to need more stimulation, and there are some children's books where there is no let-up from the frenetic pace of the story until the last page is turned. But whatever happened to the slow burn? To building the tension gradually and then hitting your reader between the eyes when they least expect it?

I'm not convinced we need to always hit our readers between the eyes from the word go...but I still need the 'grab' factor in this particular chapter.

What works for you? As a reader, do you have to have a life-and-death opener? Or do you prefer more subtlety in the conflict? Have you got an opening sentence that stuck in your mind and compelled you to continue reading? I'll consider your answers as part of my research...


  1. Hi, Squidge, first of all I'm honoured at the thought of you using my suggestions for your flash fiction. I was prompted by your last call for three items in yesterdays post, I simply looked to see what I had to hand close to my writing desk (if you can believe that) ha ha!

    Anyway you've already seen my response to the 'grab' question you posed but, I'd like to also offer you this; I sometimes escort the kids on their school outings, on the long bus journeys I usually tell them stories and most times they listen intently to what I have to say because of my 'voice' I don't mean talking funny or anything but, talking in a language on their level if you know what I mean although in particular they like me to tell stories about the 'olden days' good luck with both. x

    1. I had no hand in the picking, Baz - honest! Just wrote all the lists out and handed them over to family Squidge!

      Hope you'll like the story when I post's certainly taking shape.