by Amber Schamel
Every author needs a detective. It’s elementary, my dear Watson.
Not sure you believe me? Very well, I will explain.
Wednesday afternoon, a quarter past one. I was at lunch with my brother. We were casually talking while dishing out homemade spaghetti. My brother was sharing about his work and the various construction projects he was selling, but his voice faded as I grabbed my smart phone and checked my notifications. (Because that’s what every legit author does on her lunch hour, right?)
That’s when it happened. I admit to the crime. Shame, guilt and all. Between the food, the people around, and my smartphone, I wasn’t paying much attention to what my brother was saying. Until I heard: “So she hired a detective.”
“Whoa, hold on. What?”
One of my brother’s brows lifted. “You weren’t even listening up to this point, were you?”
Busted. Good thing this wasn’t big enough for court. After I apologized for my rude behavior, we laughed. Too often people don’t really listen when someone is trying to communicate with them.
My brother made a suggestion. “We ought to start off every conversation by just saying, ‘detective.’ Then we’d have their attention.”
We laughed again…but he made a good point. Something’s gotta grab the person’s attention. As writers, we have this concept drilled into us for the beginning of our story. “Hook the reader.” But this concept reaches farther than that. Yes, every author needs a ‘detective’ at the beginning of their story, but they also need one:
• At the beginning of every chapter.
• At the end of every chapter.
• On the Back Cover Copy.
• In their proposal.
• At the beginning of every blog post.
• As the first sentence of their bio.
• In every tweet, Facebook ad or post.
‘Detectives’ can be helpful in other areas too.
• As a lead in for instructions to your kids.
• When we want to communicate something important to our spouse/family.
• When we’re hosting or entertaining a group of people.
• When we’re greeting the visitor at church.
Whew, that sounds like a lot of work. I feel like Watson standing in awe at Sherlock’s skill and thinks, ‘this is impossible.’ Perhaps with some practice, being a ‘detective’ can become ‘elementary’ for me as well.
So, I’d love to hear from YOU.
In what other situations should we have a ‘detective’?
Any tricks for coming up with a good hook?
How about some exercises to practice?
Author of over half a dozen books, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call “historical fiction at its finest”. She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks. Visit her online at www.AmberSchamel.com.