So, I recently read some writing advice about the importance of the first page — so roughly 200 to 250 words — in establishing “the writer’s contract with the reader”, i.e. telling the reader what the book is going to be about.
I, as shouldn’t surprise anyone by now, thought this was completely stupid. I don’t know about you, but personally if I pick up a book in the sci-fi section, or the romance section, or whatever, I’ve already got a pretty good idea what to expect, regardless of what the first page is like.
Anyway, here are the first 200ish words of two of my works-in-progress. Have fun figuring out the genre . . . sci-fi is a given, so try to figure out the secondary genre . . . action-adventure, romance, mystery, what?
The answer is down at the very bottom of the post.
Excerpt the first:
I took a deep, centering breath before walking into the High Chancellor’s office. I was scared . . . no, I was fucking terrified . . . but there was no way I was going to let him see that. Not today, not with the rumors I’d been hearing. By the time I approached His High Assholeness’ desk, I was the very picture of a calm, collected, highly trained assassin.
“You wanted to see me, High Chancellor?” I asked. He was expecting me to try something stupid, that was clear from the blaster he had casually laying in front of him. He knew me too well. I said a quick, silent prayer for patience and self-control.
“Yes. I have a mission for you, a very straightforward one: Arrange for Kenshin Kenodori to meet with an untimely demise. Immediately.” He didn’t yell the last word, that wasn’t his style, but it was a near thing.
“Kill Kenshin?” I said incredulously, calling on years of training to keep the worry and fear I was feeling out of my voice. “What kind of joke is this?”
He smiled evilly. “Oh, I think you know this is no joke. You know exactly what he’s been doing, don’t you, taverlot?”
Excerpt the second (this one is from a pretty early draft, hence the bit in parenthesis):
I had just finished sending the last foe near me to the Spirits when I heard a terrible scream from the direction Renata had gone, chasing someone attempting to run from the battle. I just knew that it was her who had screamed, not the ((enemy)).
I numbly climbed the overturned troop transport and found my dearest friend stumbling, her hand clutching her side, blood flowing freely between her fingers. The bastard who’d stabbed her was growing smaller in the distance, running faster than any Human ever could have.
Don’t let her die like this! I pleaded with the Spirits as I jumped off and ran to her. I forced myself to stay calm. That was surprisingly easy to do. Years as a Dagger have somewhat inured me to seeing people I care about mortally wounded. “Let me help,” I said, gently, as I eased her to the ground.
She was growing paler by the piclanid. I applied pressure to the wound on her side with one hand while keying my comm with the other. “Ren needs a medevac, now. Here are our coordinates.”
They’re both romances. Either I’m a total failure as an author, or that advice is particularly stupid even by the standards of writing advice.