May 5, 2010


Sceptical about freebies?

My grandmother had a saying, 'if you can't be free, at least be cheap'. Sigh. I've come to appreciate free a little more recently.

In my last post I talked about Les Edgerton's book, Hooked, on writing perfect openings. Did you know Amazon offer samples of the first chapters for most of their Kindle books? You can download the sample chapters to your PC, Mac, iPhone, Blackberry or Kindle via the free program on Amazon's site.

I'm downloading free samples of first chapters from novels in a similar genre to the one I'm writing. This gives me plenty of examples of openings, introducing characters and setting up inciting incidents (the chain of events that lead to the story-worthy problem as detailed in Hooked). You can study as many first chapters as you want to get a feel for the type of opening that would suit your story.

I'm writing a novel set in rural Australia in 1939 with a 13yr. old protagonist that discovers a body (The Warracknabeal Kids). The type of books I'm reading for first chapters are mysteries, Australian outback tales and teen boy stories.

If you would like to try the Kindle books application for any device click on the link below for instructions:

Sometimes one chapter is not enough. I just finished reading Spade and Archer by Joe Gore. This book has been written as a prequel to the famous mystery by Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon. Gore captured Samuel Spade's character perfectly and the book slips easily into place telling the detective's tales and adventures before he stumbled onto the mystery of The Maltese Falcon. I could actually picture Humphrey Bogart in the role. If you love traditional, gritty mysteries, then this is for you. I liked it a lot, but did find myself skimming occasionally and think I belong more to the cosy mystery club that includes Agatha Christie tales (and young girls entering dog shows while solving mysteries).
I know one particular Bogart fan that is going to flip for this book. So, I'm posting it up to Brisbane so my dear ol' dad can read it :-)


  1. I have the book Hooked and it's fantastic. It has really helped me see what I need to do to make my chapter 1 better.

  2. If you like reading novels in a similar genre then it sounds like reading Stephen King's 'The Body' might be useful to you. Wrong year though (The Body is set in 1960, was turned into the film 'Stand By Me') but still, it is about a group of kids that discover a body in a somewhat rural setting. You probably already know this one so please forgive me if just stating the obvious!

  3. Great idea for researching beginnings of books. Thanks for the tip. Love the kitty litter image, too!

  4. That's a great idea to download the first chapters of the genre you write in....I'm going to go try it. :)

  5. I think the free samples of the first chapters are a great way for the reader to find out if they're going to like a book or not. Usually if the first chapter doesn't grab you, you won't like the rest of the book either. Good luck with your writing.

    Thoughts in Progress

  6. Christine - another fan! Hooked is so good, I'll be trying Les' other writing book next.
    Jayne - Thanks for that! I have the film 'Stand By Me' and I was thinking of rewatching it for inspiration, but I didn't know about the book - I'm going to buy it, I like the earlier King writing. They are the kind of kids I had in mind :-)
    Lou - thanks, the cartoon is cute, if you click on it, it takes you to the artists website.
    Aubrie - then we'll just need free middle chapters for when we're up to that bit, then free ends.... ;-)
    Mason - Thanks, it makes you realise you need to perfect your first chapter, not just to get an agent or publisher, but to win over readers now that they can try your first chapters for free!

  7. I love this idea - what a great way to see how successful authors put together a first chapter! Now, to get myself a Kindle.

  8. Another book to add to my teetering stack of TBRs. Thanks for the tip about the first chapter. That's a great idea!

  9. What a great idea!! I don't have a Kindle yet - but I'll remember this for when I do get one! Great tip :)

  10. Cool post. Great idea to get educated on first chapters. This puts me in the mood for a good old-fashioned mystery. Maybe for Mother's Day?

  11. I've been reading HOOKED also. In fact, I'm nearly finished. Isn't it great?!

    Thanks for the Kindle 1st chapter idea - you are always so clever! :-)

  12. Jaydee & Jemi - Kindle's great, but you can download those chapters straight to your PC without a Kindle :-)
    Angie - TBR piles can get a bit scary, I'm thinking of using my TBRs to build an extension on the house, I'm sure I've enough.
    Mary - Can't go past a good mystery, but then again, handmade cards with cotton wool balls stuck on them make great mother's day pressies too :-).
    Shannon - Yes! I love it, in fact I first heard about the book from you, so glad I did!