I've posted before on why we need to hook the reader with character and not just explosive action. But HOW? How do you, in the first several sentences implant feelings like that? It isn't easy, but here are a few tips:
- Put the MC in an immediately sympathetic situation. If it's something I can relate to, then I'm hooked. Wait! What if it's a dystopian or paranormal? How can I relate to being stalked by a vampire? Again - it's the similarity in the feelings. Haven't we all had those moments when we felt someone was watching. Or everything seemed deserted and we could imagine a mugger hiding around the corner?
- Make your MC's reaction unexpected. You know your MC, and hopefully you've chosen well. Put the wrong person in the right situation. And assuming we are at the beginning of said character's character arc, we can watch him/her fail miserably. Let's go with our vampire stalker. Suppose the frightened girl spins around and confronts him, giving him a piece of her mind? That could be fun. I'd sure want to see what the heck is up with her! We see some flaws and some potential heroism coming through immediately.
- Show a contradiction in the MC's internal and external image. Give us some internal dialogue to show how she thinks. Then show us through interaction with others how she is really viewed. If there's a dichotomy between those things, I might be more interested in this complex person. Inside? She's shaking, confronting the stalker because she learned that in some self-defense class. Externally? The vampire stumbles and looks around. Can vampire's blush?
Okay - I don't know about you, but I'm interested in both of these characters now. What do you think? Any other tips? My blogging/tweeting friend Susan had a wonderful post on first chapter characterization based on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone that I recommend as well.