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

The voice of a toddler is compelling, indeed.

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:

The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn

We return to historical drama in Joanna Quinn’s The Whalebone Theatre, and know what? I don’t mind.

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

The story is geared to follow Cristabel Seagrave from toddlerhood to adulthood spying on Nazis in France, so our first impression of the protagonist is her impish, defiant nature. Oh, this kid is great fun, and I wouldn’t mind following the toddler Cristabel around for a whole novel. Quinn does marvelous work as a writer in keeping the prose vivid and active, while also throwing in the occasional childish term like “nothingy.” It’s a lovely balance for adult readers who may not appreciate the quirky language of a child, while also sounding true as a voice for a young character. We watch Cristabel meet her stepmother for the first time, and this occasion clearly marks a strained relationship for the future–any stepmother who refers to a child as “it” is not all that keen on children, to be sure! So while we didn’t see the whalebones just yet, I enjoyed seeing much of Cristabel’s personality and imagination shine through so much in this opening scene. Those are the character traits an author wants to establish early so that the protagonist’s later choices not only propel the story forward, but also ring true to the character we’re happy to know.

No matter what the season brings, keep reading!

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