Monday, March 30, 2015

Writing 101: The In-Book Preview Page

I remember the first time I cracked open "Flowers in the Attic" by V.C. Andrews. I'm one of those readers who always starts right at the beginning and looks at every page. I begin with the dedication, I read every author's note, and I'll even skim over the Table of Contents before I get started. But when I found a page before the story that was an exactly copy of a page inside the story, I didn't know what to make of it. It was the first time I ever saw an in-book preview page, and it totally blew my mind. So now I'm wondering: do you put these pages in your books?

The Preview

Does anyone remember the preview page of "Flowers in the Attic," by the way? It's this amazing intense scene with the evil Grandmother, and everyone's calling each other by their names and they're all in this small room together and it's totally confusing but it's also terribly exciting. That page accomplishes exactly what a book excerpt is supposed to accomplish. And maybe you should be adding it to your book, after all.

  • Short paragraphs: Don't choose the page with your most flowery descriptions. You want a page that reads quickly and feels actionable, so choose one that has short sentences and paragraphs.
  • Dialogue: There's always something compelling about dialogue. Try to choose a page that features some dialogue on it, even if it's a conversation between people the reader doesn't know yet. 
  • Emotion: Look for a page containing conflict, or sadness. Joy or love. Maybe a kiss, maybe a fistfight, but something. You want readers to feel something right away in a preview page, so pick a page that's going to do that.

If you're going to do an in-book preview page, there are certain things you want to think about in order to pick the perfect page. Keep this stuff in mind, and follow it, and you should find just the right page to show off to the readers you want to hook.

Don't choose a page that's going to give away any major book spoilers, and choose just one page. You don't want the preview to bleed over into another page, because this is just a taste of what's to come. Pick the perfect in-book preview page, and you just may give someone a lifelong memory of how great your writing really is. 

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