on Helping Writers become Authors:
The one thing all writers are trying to do is write a better first chapter. First chapters are do-or-die territory. We know this as writers because we know this as readers. Most of us make our reading choices after scanning the first few paragraphs of a story. Sometimes we know if we want to go on after as little as a few sentences.
As writers who have put hundreds, even thousands of hours into writing the entirety of a book, we often feel this swift judgment is a little unfair. After all, first impressions aren’t always right. Several of my all-time favorite books weren’t ones that grabbed me off the bat; it was only my compulsive perseverance that allowed me to open up these stories’ true gifts. But 75-90% of the time, readers are going to make the correct decision about a book after reading just the first chapter or so.
Why is this? How can readers make an accurate decision about a book with so little information? What little signals are writers giving readers that let them quickly make up their minds?