You’ve Got Five Pages, #Babel by #RFKuang, to Tell Me You’re Good. #FirstChapter #BookReview #Podcast

At last, my library got a new fantasy novel!

As writers, we hear all the time that we’ve got to hook readers in just the first few pages or else. We’ve got to hook agents in the first few pages or else.

Whether you’re looking to get published or just hoping to hook your reader, first impressions are vital. Compelling opening scenes are the key to catching an agent or editor’s attention, and are crucial for keeping your reader engaged.


Well then, let’s study those first few pages in other people’s stories, shall we?

Today I snagged from the New Release shelf:

Babel by R.F. Kuang

Goodness, ANOTHER happy find! I don’t know if I’ve ever had such a run with great books on this podcast. 🙂

Babel by R.F. Kuang not only has a fascinating book cover, but an intriguing premise as well: the world’s magic is manipulated through words and silver, and in the early 1800s, England is the master of that magic. The opening is not set in England, though, but in China, where a young boy awaits his death from cholera, the same illness that had already taken his family. A mysterious British professor knows where he lives and magically heals him before taking him to the English Factory. Where this factory actually is I’ve no idea, as this would take us past five pages, but I can safely say the first five pages do a wonderful job of hooking us as readers. Kuang’s use of descriptive language wastes no time ensnaring us with her description of the boy’s mother dying of cholera and his acceptance of his fate. On the second page, we’re already shown a magic healing; while it doesn’t tell us how the boy is healed, it’s enough worldbuilding for us to know that some have magic, and others do not. As a writer, I’m also intrigued by the details dropped about the mysterious professor and English woman who helped raise the boy. What is it about this particular child that has drawn distinctively different English people to him, thousands of miles away in China? I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out. 🙂

No matter what the season brings, keep reading!

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!