You’ve Got Five Pages, #RedWarning by Matthew Quirk, to Tell Me You’re Good. #FirstChapter #BookReview #Podcast

Hello, amazing fellow creatives! Here’s to more fun perusing the library’s new releases to see what strikes our fancy. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve retitled Story Cuppings to better fit the premise of the podcast.

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:

Red Warning by Matthew Quirk

The first chapter of Red Warning by Matthew Quirk was a most unique experience. The book starts with one of the biggest tropes one can have with a thriller. (“How do you know we can trust him?” “I don’t.” Dunh dunh DUNH!) This set me giggling which, perhaps, isn’t how one typically reads a thriller.

How will you, fellow creative, respond to the first five pages? Let’s find out!

If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.

As I read on, however, I felt like I was reading something from a Cannon 1980s schlocky action film, and that quickly warmed my heart to this story. The dialogue and action all sound perfect for a B film, so if you are a fan of the older, low-budget spy films, this may be just the book for you!

As a writer, though, I struggled with one major aspect of this chapter. In the first few pages of the story, we’re told the main protagonist spy is looking for another spy who also kills bankers and intelligence sources. The protagonist isn’t *supposed* to do anything, so he’s done playing by the rules (dunh dunh DUNH!) and has gone rogue to find the baddie.

This is all said in the first three pages.

Considering the motivation for the protagonist to go rogue is the murder spree, I find it odd we as readers don’t get to see the protagonist affected by the murder spree or see him make the decision to go rogue. It’s as if the story is starting slightly *after* the real beginning, and because we still need that context, the information is thrown at us in exposition. This just makes those murders feel less important than I’m sure they are.

As always, I love hearing what’s on the shelves of your own libraries. Libraries Rock!

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