Okay, what is it about the first 250 words? Why do they have to be stellar, amazing, awe-inspiring, hook-grabbing, and all that jazz?
I don't judge a book (or a writer, for that matter) by the first 250 words. I normally - bad on me - judge a book by, well, it's cover. Yes, I'm a cover snob. I'm more apt to pick up a book with an interesting cover, than one with not. Okay, a catchy title will grab me as well, but both combined . . . ah, the ambrosia that tickles my literary senses.
Now, after the cover and title, or a combo of both, I like to - whether in a book store or not - read the first chapter before making a definitive decision on the book.
So, to me, the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first 250 words or, well, whatever, really don't matter.
What does matter is the writing within the first chapter!
So, why is there this myth, perhaps a reality, that the first 250 words, or whatever, matter so much?
I don't have an answer to that question. I only have my own way of deciding if I'm going to buy a book, and the first 250 words really don't come into play with me. The cover, often the title, and, yes, the cover jacket or back cover blurb are taken into account as well, but, not, I repeat, not, the first 250 words.
Now, I understand agents getting a ton of submissions and having to make a decision quick. But, don't many of them ask for the first five pages, which, last time I checked, is greater than 250 words? Why, yes, it is. Hmmm . . .
Okay, I love me some Miss Snark's First Victim. I love her blog and what she does for all aspiring writers. I've submitted my first 250 words to contests in the past. I haven't recently because, well, the MS isn't complete. But . . . I couldn't submit my first 250 because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the first 250 of the current project isn't the expected - wham, bam, right into the action - norm that I seem to see out there. The first chapter - 4 pages - sets the stage for everything. Yes, there's a bit of wham, bam, right into the action, but not in the first 250 words.
My readers - so my betas tell me - love this first chapter. They've all said they get a sense of the two lead characters within those first four pages, as well as who they are and what they, well, one of them, wants out of life, i.e., the goal of the book.
Trust me, they wouldn't get this in the first 250 words. Sorry, it's just not happening.
So, you tell me: are your first 25o words wham, bam, right into the action? Do you prefer this in the first 25o words? Do you prefer something a bit more subtle? Do you base your buying on the first few pages or the first few chapters of a book? Comment away.
p.s. Please note I'm not intending to dis' Authoress in any way, shape, or form. I love her blog, I'm friends with her on Facebook, and we've chatted back and forth in emails in the past. I think - heck, I know - the main reason for this post is the fact that I knew the first 250 words of my current manuscript would fail the litmus test of her blog, and really, just wanted some other input out there from my writerly brethren! : )