One thing that has been evolving over the past couple of hundred years is the pacing of novels. Go back to nineteenth century books, and the story tends to unfold at a delightfully leisurely pace. You can’t read those tomes in a hurry.
We still have big fat books – especially in the fantasy genre – but mostly the pacing is much faster. To match the way we live, perhaps. And there are so many websites or blogs by agents/writers/editors telling us we’ve got to grab the attention of the reader/agent/editor in the first few lines – or fail to sell. Which is a shame in some ways. I actually prefer a leisurely start when I am reading. I like to get to know the characters before someone tries to kill them in the first paragraph.
Which doesn’t mean I don’t bow to modern taste in my own writing. Mostly. Sort of. Here are the beginnings of my published novels. Which one would you pick up to buy first??
It wasn’t easy being a girl sometimes. Especially not when you were just sixteen, and hauling in wet fishing nets over a deck slippery with scales and slime.
So you want to know what the Isles of Glory were like back then, eh? In the days before the Change, in the years before your people found us – and we found out that we weren’t the only islands in the ocean.
I first met Blaze and Flame the day before I murdered my wife. The evening before, to be exact.
Piers Kaylen drew rein at the top of the rise and looked down on the halt. He sat unmoving in the saddle of his mount, and his emerald eyes missed nothing as he shifted his gaze away from the distant mountains and bordering roughs to the tree-spattered plain, and finally on to the stolid buildings of the halt below.
When an emperor laughs about you behind your back, you know you are in trouble.
The Shadow of Tyr:
Temellin stood on the sea wall and watched the Platterfish manoeuvre through the moored fisher boats. In the windless waters of the harbour, four oars stroked in unison from the lower deck, while the sail hung like a rumpled blanket from the top spar. On the upper deck, a woman leaned at the railing, looking back at him.
Song of the Shiver Barrens:
When Kelven was twelve years old, he saw the harbinger of his death. He was fishing for his family’s dinner in the lake at the time, sitting on the bank with his feet dangling over the water, dreaming of nothing more than a good meal of spout-nosed trout.