Sunday, January 16, 2011


By now we all know how important it is to draw the reader in from the very first line.  Below are the openings to three different novels which do just that.  All three have a thriller undertone to their storyline and move at a rapid pace.  If you're not familiar with these writers, you should be.  They're part of a growing number of writers who understand how to keep up the pace.

Readers can vote on their favorite opening scene to the right side of the page and at the end of the voting I'll be sending one of my followers a free copy of the winning novel.  Enjoy.

A-  SHAKEN, by J.A. Konrath 

This guy isn’t a killer, Dalton thinks. He’s a butcher.

Dalton isn’t repulsed by the spectacle, or even disturbed. He stays detached and professional, even as he snaps a picture of Brotsky tearing at the prostitute’s body with some kind of three-pronged garden tool.

There’s a lot of blood.

Dalton wonders if he should have brought color film. But there’s something classic, something pure, about shooting in black and white. It makes real life even more realistic.

Dalton opens the f-stop on the lens, adjusting for the setting sun. He’s standing in the backyard of Brotsky’s house, and his subject had been kind enough to leave the blinds open. From his spot on the lawn, Dalton has a clear view into Brotsky’s living room, where the carnage is taking place. Though Brotsky has a high fence and plenty of foliage on his property, he’s still taking a big risk. There are neighbors on either side, and the back gate leading to the alley is unlocked. Anyone could walk by.

It’s not a smart way to conduct a murder.

Dalton has watched Brotsky kill two hookers in this fashion, and surely there have been others. Yet the Chicago Police Department hasn’t come knocking on Brotsky’s door yet. Brotsky has been incredibly lucky so far.

But luck runs out.

At least Brotsky has the sense to put a tarp down, Dalton thinks.

He snaps another photo. Brotsky’s naked barrel chest is slick with gore, and the look on his unshaven face is somewhere between frenzy and ecstasy as he works the garden tool. He’s not a tall man, but he’s thick, with big muscles under a layer of hard fat. Brotsky sweats a lot, and his balding head gives off a glare which Dalton offsets by using a filter on his lens.

Brotsky sets down the garden tool and picks up a cleaver.

Yeah, this guys is nuts.

B- THE DARK PATH, by Luke Romyn

Antoni knew he had failed. This knowledge burned bitterly through his mind, but he refused to admit defeat. The child had no one else, and Antoni wouldn't turn his back on her. Blood oozed down his left arm, leaving a grisly trail behind him as he shuffled slowly down the tunnel carved out beneath the mountain.

The flow had slowed now, but Antoni knew his loss of blood had rendered him nearly useless. The Four had proven invulnerable, while he had only his mortality to challenge them with.

He had cast aside his armor along with his equally ineffective weapons, after barely escaping from the battle into this tunnel. The only thing he retained was the package wrapped and hidden securely within his clothing.

Blurred images flowed before him; he tried to refocus, but found it no use. Despair coursed through Antoni for the hundredth time, and he paused against the wall, hoping to regain some strength. Never before had the knight failed. Throughout his many battles during the Crusades, at times facing impossible odds, he always managed to prevail.

This time was different.

He was dead; his body simply hadn't realized it.

C- VIGILANTE, by Claude Bouchard 

The old man was drunk again. That usually meant trouble.

The boy backed away into the recesses of the attic, his secret place, as he called it. There, he would be safe as long as he remained quiet because the bastard turned violent when he got drunk.

The youngster worried about his sister though, who had arrived ten minutes before their stepfather had. He had heard, then seen her through the ventilation grill set in the ceiling of her room but she didn’t know he was there. Nobody knew about his secret place. They never used the attic.

“Where the f**k is everybody!” the old man hollered angrily as he plodded up the stairs.

The boy could hear the stupid drunk bounce off one wall, then the other as he stumbled upwards. Laying flat on his stomach, the youth quietly started inching back towards the ventilation grill. Doors could be heard slamming open and closed in the upstairs hallway. He reached the grill and peered down through it at his older sister, wishing that there was some way he could magically beam her up to him, like they did in Star Trek.

She was seated on the bed with knees gripped under her chin, huddled in the corner and trembling with intense fear as she stared at the door. She visibly stiffened as the footsteps approached, causing a nauseous wave to wash over her brother as he secretly but helplessly watched on. The footsteps stopped on the other side of the door and silent seconds went by, serving only to increase each sibling’s private terror.

‘Please go away! Leave her alone!’ the boy pleaded in his mind, biting his knuckles to keep from screaming.

At that moment, door crashed open, causing his sister to jump with fright.

“Howya doin, girly?” their stepfather snarled with a leering smile. “Didn’t ya hear me callin?”


  1. Read The Dark Path totally captivating. Hook on Luke's work hungry for more! Will definitely read these others curiosity.

  2. Margie-Rose, glad you enjoyed them. That's what this is all about, exposing new talent to readers. Enjoy.

  3. Congrats to Heather Kegler for being my follower who won a copy of Luke Romyn's "The Dark Path." Congrats to Luke for winning the contest against such heavyweight competition.

  4. For those of us who can't abide blood & gore, these are decidedly not great opening lines. So your choices apply only to your particular, peculiar taste.