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Sunday, October 10, 2021

Good Books Begin With Change by Joan Reeves (subbing for Keta Diablo)

My friend Keta Diablo is still on sabattical so I'm subbing for her today. 

You can visit Keta's Amazon page to find a list of her books.

Keta and I write different kinds of books, but we share one thing in common. We know a good book begins with change.

Change. Oh, how some people struggle against it as if one could stretch out and seize the world, making it stand still.

Readers may wonder why a good book begins with change so I thought I'd talk about that today.

The Only Thing Constant Is Change

When you begin a book with change, you create a book with forward motion that pulls the reader along.

The best opening sentences show or imply change because change affects a character immediately and the change has downstream effects on the character's life. Change in one's life can have unexpected and surprising effects on a person or a character if we're talking about writing, which we are.

Here are some more samples of opening sentences that foreshadow or show change is coming.

From Dark Rivers of the Heart by Dean Koontz

With the woman on his mind and a deep uneasiness in his heart, Spencer Grant drove through the glistening night, searching for the red door.


He's driving. So he's on a journey of some kind, and journeys involve change.

A woman is on his mind. He's obviously not connected to her already, or she'd have been named.

Uneasiness in his heart. Strange woman and uneasiness = change is coming.

Searching for the red door. Why? What happens when he finds it? Change of some kind is coming.

When you put all of that together, you get a page-turning beginning that's evocative because of his word choice, i.e. uneasiness in his heart, glistening night, red door, and the active voice. Koontz didn't say Grant was driving. He said, Grant drove, searching. Koontz didn't say Grant was thinking about the woman, and he felt uneasy. Look at every part of the sentence and see how the individual elements combine to create a powerful opening sentence.

From Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.


You know that neighbor is going to be a problem, and that means change to her peace of mind, her life, her entire environment.

Wrap Up

Sure, there are opening sentences that catch the attention without being about change, but when you read a sentence that makes you stop, backup and read it again, chances are pretty good it's because the sentence is about change—either stated directly or implied and picked up by that part of our brain that is receptive to the human shared subconscious.


From the opening of THE KEY TO KRISTINA, my latest Romantic Mystery:

What on earth was she doing here?

She was so far out of her comfort zone she might as well be on Mars. Kristina Rivera looked around the elegant law office which offered a stunning panoramic view of downtown Houston and the pewter-colored sky that portended rain. She’d expected the Gulf coast to be sunny and warm even though it was late September, but, like much of Texas, the weather was often unpredictable.

She shouldn’t have come.

The Key To Kristina is a Kindle Unlimited free read or $3.99 to buy and keep forever.


  1. It's the 1st lesson, isn't it, because it's necessary from the very beginning.

  2. Well, I guess if your current life was a book, you would have a best seller! I think after I find my house both of us need to keep the change to our books for a while...


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