How important is the first paragraph of a novel?

I took four fantasy novels and predicted what each was about based on its first paragraph. Yes, the first paragraph of a novel is important.

Writers are told they have to grab their readers by the throat in their first sentence. Attention spans have gone the way of the megalodon, and if you don’t grab a reader straight away you’ve lost them.

A first sentence should do everything. Be a microcosm of the entire story. Introduce a fascinating character. Be surprising. Set reader expectations. Foreshadow the story problem. Raise a question. Wash the dishes. Hang out the laundry. Pick the kids up from school.

Okay, maybe not all those.

I agree first sentences are important, but how much can they really do?

I decided to find out.

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A plan for overcoming writer’s block

I’ve been struck by creativity paralysis, aka writer’s block. My plan for overcoming it is to binge read these highly recommended books.

About a week ago I was confident about my writing. I was excited about starting to write the sequel to my current WIP, and you guys convinced me it was okay to do that rather than working on my unrelated book.

Then with three hours free, I got ready to sit down for some brainstorming… and got some stressful news from work.

Fyi, I resigned from that job. I left that job several weeks ago. It should no longer be following and stressing me.

I tried to put all work thoughts aside and started brainstorming.

I came up with lots of ideas… and loathed all of them.

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The problem with Harry Potter and why it doesn’t matter

Given his upbringing, Harry Potter wouldn’t have been a nice, well-adjusted kid. He would have been a nightmare. But that would have made a very different story.

Let me see if I’ve got this right.

We have Harry Potter, a kid who between the ages of 1 and 11 lived in a house with parental figures who hated, neglected, and emotionally abused him, and a sibling figure who bullied him.

I’m pretty sure he never got any love or affection at home.

He slept locked in a cupboard, for goodness sake.

We see no evidence he had any friends at school*, and, knowing kids, he probably got bullied for always wearing cast-off clothes that were too big for him.

* Okay, I haven’t read the books in years, so I’m mostly going by the movies. That still counts.

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Ten self-help books I read so you don’t have to

I read ten self-help books and took away various insights, some of which are helpful. I summarise the helpful ones and the others here.

At their best, self-helps books are amazing because they literally teach you how to help yourself, and inspire you to do so. Want to become a millionaire by sitting on your couch playing video games? There will be a self-help book for that.

However, some self-help books would have been better if they’d remained blog posts, and some should never have been written at all.

I forget most of what I read in most self-help books, maybe because it isn’t relevant to me, or maybe because I’m too busy trying to put Princess on a diet without starving Runs from Jeans.

A year later I might remember one main point, and I’m fine with that. It was probably the most important point.

Today I’m going to share some of these main points.

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Liars and Thieves by D. Wallace Peach is out now

I’ve been a fan of D. Wallace Peach since I beta read one of her books several years ago. Now her new fantasy novel, Liars and Thieves, is out, and it just jumped to the top of my TBR list.

Liars and Thieves

Behind the Veil, the hordes gather, eager to savage the world. But Kalann il Drakk, First of Chaos, is untroubled by the shimmering wall that holds his beasts at bay. For if he cannot cleanse the land of life, the races will do it for him. All he needs is a spark to light the fire.

Three unlikely allies stand in his way.

A misfit elf plagued by failure—

When Elanalue Windthorn abandons her soldiers to hunt a goblin, she strays into forbidden territory.

A changeling who betrays his home—

Talin Raska is a talented liar, thief, and spy. He makes a fatal mistake—he falls for his mark.

A halfbreed goblin with deadly secrets—

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