A few days ago, I scanned my to-read shelves. In total, I had 63 ARCS awaiting my attention. They all had gorgeous covers and great blurbs, so how could I possibly decide which to read, promote, and ultimately buy? Easy. By flipping open that first page and taking a gander.
We all like to think we’re individuals; that we’re unique as people, and unique as readers. But in actuality, we’re not so different. We’re all looking for the same thing: that feeling. That, oh-my-God-I-have-read-this-right-now sensation. I like to call this Story Lust. Story Lust is not to be confused with Cover Lust, which will cause a reader to pick up a book, but not necessarily to buy it. And even if Cover Lust and Blurb Lust do drive a reader to open their wallet, it won’t keep them reading without Story Lust.
So what exactly is Story Lust, and how can you use it in your manuscript?
Story Lust is what hooks the buyer. It’s what promises them a good read, and what keeps them reading later even when your story drags. Because somehow, even though your story is stalling (even the best do), they remember the feeling they got when they first opened your book. They remember the Story Lust..and typically..they keep turning those pages.
To ensure your manuscript has Story Lust, you must make that first line, or page, or chapter as full of voice as possible (voice is what makes your story sound different from someone else’s. Go pick up a Hemingway novel and you’ll see what I mean.). Another way to trigger Story Lust is to make your main character leap off the page. Exciting first scenes are great, but it’s more important to have your reader care about your character up front. There are many ways to do this. One easy trick is to give your MC a quirk like:
Martha Jennings loved eating Blueberry Pop-Tarts, but only if she spun in a circle exactly four times beforehand. The Pop-Tart was no good without the spinning.
That’s not great, but you see what I mean. Make your character memorable on the first page–and make the writing full of voice–to pull your reader in.
Go on, give your first page Story Lust. 🙂
What do you think? What reels you into a book quickly?