I picked up a free Kindle read. It had a lovely cover. The picture intrigued me and reminded me of other books I had read with similar quality covers. Also, it was free.
So, a few things. The writing isn’t bad. Truly. But the beginning has some holes which completely lost my interest.
First: The Trope
The MC has fallen for the cutest, most unattainable princeling despite the fact that she’s “plain” (as expressed in the narrative.) I’m never a fan of the “I’m plain Jane” narrative even though I’ve been guilty of such myself. Let’s break the habit together. The MC’s delirious hope escalated during literally one incident where the princeling caught her from tripping.
Fix: Entertain us with a wildly outrageous series of interactions in which these inevitable love birds keep running into each other. THAT would be interesting.
Second: The Hook
The story starts during climax but keeps patching the reader back to this singular exchange so you’re trying to figure out what’s going on and what happened to make what’s currently happening relevant to what did happen.
Right? Confusing. The hook brought you in with a promise, but then goes through a poor job of bringing you up to speed.
Fix: Begin by setting up the readers with your cast. Plain Jane has a crush on the princeling and they keep bumping into each other, either romantically or awkwardly. I’ll take either. Or both. Definitely both. Then flash forward to present day so we can panic along with her.
Third: (And this is only the first three pages, mind you.) The Investment
The MC is unduly concerned over [incident] which she suspects involves her princeling (who probably doesn’t even know she exists, yada yada) and she abandons her post to find out. Dilemma:
- A) we don’t know WHO she is.
- B) we don’t know WHAT is going on.
- C) we don’t know WHEN this story transpires.
- D) we don’t even know WHERE she is or WHY her post is important or TO WHAT DEGREE (sorry, just had to had that last one.)
Why should we be concerned or feel for this MC’s situation? We know nothing about her, except for the “desktop patching” we keep getting which is pulling us from the action.
Fix: This story can still be viewed from present day moments before the action. The MC could be seen daydreaming over said encounters with her princeling. We could learn her status, her job, her plainness, all at once, then cue the action. Now we’re invested. We know the stakes and we know the reward. We have a firm grasp of the world and our heroine, and we’re ready to follow her.
Readers genuinely want to care about the main characters. We do. We are looking for escape, adventure, or relatability. Hopefully all three at once.
I know some famous writers get away with this all the time, but there are reasons it works and reasons it doesn’t. Here’s a few reasons it didn’t.
This has been,
A FanTC Reader
PS the book title and author has been intentionally left out because I do not trash books publicly, and I do not wish emotional harm on the writer. Their writing was good. They have a few tropes (so do we all.) Maybe with a stronger editor, they could have created an edge-of-your-seat beginning experience.