The CSFF Blog Tour is featuring Karen Hancock’s latest release, a science fiction/suspense entitled The Enclave. As I’ve visited other blogs and read reviews, I’ve seen a couple things that stand out to me as a writer, but for now I want to focus on the beginning of the story.
A number of people thought the novel started slowly, but some, like me, were hooked from the beginning. What is it about a book that pulls some readers in right away while leaving others out in the cold? Here are the opening lines of The Enclave:
- Cameron Reinhardt is an idiot!
- Yes, he had a PhD from Stanford. Yes, he was widely acknowledged as a brilliant geneticist. Yes, Director Swain called him the field’s brightest rising star, the Institute’s greatest asset, and a fabulous hiring coup. But this wasn’t the first time Lacey McHenry wondered how the man managed to get up in the morning and make it to his office fully clothed.
As I examine these lines several things draw me in.
1) A strong opinion. Granted, I don’t know the characters yet, so I don’t know if the point of view character is right and this geneticist is an idiot, or not. But it creates a question in my mind. Is he an idiot?
2) Conflict. The POV character is obviously at odds with the geneticist, but also with Director Swain, and perhaps the entire institute. While all these others think Reinhardt is wonderful, she alone thinks he’s an idiot.
3) The question of an internal struggle. What could motivate someone to go against a leader and an institution? One possibility is that the POV character is truthful and sees things others do not see. Another possibility is professional jealousy. If the latter, then the seeds of an internal struggle have been sown.
For me, these three elements were enough to capture my attention, and the rest of the page and chapter held it firmly.