I just finished my first reading of the first Harry Potter book – HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone.The first paragraph does what experienced editors tell us is vitally important, engage the reader immediately. Rowlings does it in this book by revealing things “strange and mysterious” to come. She then describes the perfectly normal family HP is to live with for several years (his time before Hogwarts). The first page ends with “the Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it.” The suspense builds.
In the first paragraphs of the first draft of Pieces of You, published in an earlier post, I tried to create suspense but followed it with a flashback. According to Jeff Gerke in his book, The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction,flashbacks are just another form of telling: “If the reader does need to know it, can you come up with an organic and chronological way to show it through scene and dialogue? Most likely, yes.” (2009, p. 165)
I have changed my first paragraph to the following. Is it better?
He boarded the Swiss train alone, just after having made a quick call to schedule an appointment at the clinic. After finding his seat in the first class section’s quiet zone, Kirk drifted between reading a business magazine and speculating about the advantages of an early retirement. Startled by a peculiar sensation, almost like a gentle stroking of his tense neck muscles, he looked around. Seeing no one, he decided it must have been an overactive imagination relaying to sensory receptors his longing for a woman’s touch. His attention diverted, Kirk turned to stare through the window. Soon absorbed by the train’s unbroken motion and totally oblivious to the postcard view of majestic peaks framing the village-strewn valleys sweeping by, Kirk daydreamed his way to his destination, visited by specters from his past and a strange guest sharing the ride.