Grabbing the interest of your reader on the first page is essential. You donít want your reader to put the book down. Using action words in the first paragraph, rather than description, helps to stir interest in the story right away. Here is an example of what I mean from my mystery novel, Anasazi Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans:
"A thunderous crash could be heard in the distance as a home collapsed and crumbled into the rushing waters below. Several people were standing at the edge of a hilltop in Santa Clara, Utah, watching their valley being destroyed before their very eyes."
You have now captured the interest of your reader. The next thing to do is to describe the situation and bring in the main characters as they watch this disaster. What are their feelings about it? How has it affected them? The next two paragraphs explain:
"When Julia saw the home fall into the depths of the water, she gasped. She put her hand lightly against her mouth with sorrow. John instantly wrapped his arm around his wife's waist and pulled her close.
"Standing on the hill and watching the destruction below was an emotional experience for Julia as she nestled into her husband's arm. She was a reporter and was supposed to write about the tragedy, but this was personal. Her valley and her friends' homes were being ripped apart. The destruction below wrenched at Julia's heart. Her home was safe and she had lost nothing, but her heart went out to the family who had just lost their home and property."
In this example, I began developing my characters and allowed my reader to feel their sorrow as they watched their community being destroyed by the flood. Development of characters is important. It helps the reader to become part of the story, to be able to feel what the character feels.
There are many ways to bring your character to life. One is an adequate description of the person and another is emotion. We need to see the character with our mindís eye. If you choose to be more descriptive about your characterís physical attributes, there is much to consider. The build of a farmer will definitely be different from a bankerís. If your character has muscles, why does he have this build? Here is an example of John Evans:
"At the age of forty-two, John was a master knife and sword maker. Tempering steel into creative shapes and styles brought him great joy. He was unusually tall with broad shoulders and a strong jaw. His bulging biceps came from lifting and working with large pieces of steel. His mother often told him that he had inherited his dark brown eyes, olive complexion, and rugged build from her side of the family."
Were you able to imagine what kind of person John is? After describing your character, you can work on softening him, giving him brief descriptions and emotions throughout the chapter.
Thatís not all. Add a little suspense to chapter one, something that will keep the readerís interest. I decided to introduce my villain in chapter one. With a description of the villain this early in the book, it creates even more interest, making the reader wonder who the mysterious man really is and what is he up to. Then, towards the end of chapter one, Julia finds a bunch of dead fish and wonders what had caused so many to die. Her curiosity is peaked. Julia must solve the mystery. And who is the mystery man, the villain of the story? Now the reader knows where this mystery is heading and canít put down the book.
Donít forget cliffhangers. Theyíre very important to add a little suspense. What is a cliffhanger? The dictionary says: "A suspenseful situation occurring at the end of a chapter, scene, or episode." This makes the reader want to read the next chapter to find out what is going to happen next.
A well-written synopsis will help to create even more interest, also. So make sure that you put enough in the synopsis to grab the attention of your reader. Here is an example below.
Synopsis of Anasazi Intrigue: Stolen artifacts, a nosy newspaper reporter, and mysterious events begin to unfold in this mystery adventure novel. When a devastating flood takes out several homes in a small town, they are shocked by the news of also a possible poison spill that kills many of the fish and neighbor's pets. Julia, the town's newest reporter, begins her investigation but realizes the story is much bigger and more dangerous than she thought! Julia and her husband find themselves on the run trying to save their lives while finishing the story of a lifetime! She never realized that being a reporter could be so dangerous. With artifacts, dead fish, a devastating flood, and miscreants, John and Julia have their hands full.
To read the whole chapter of Anasazi Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans, visit my website at Make Believe: http://www.lindaweaverclarke.com/anasazi.html. Good luck with writing your mystery novel.