12 July 2010

Polish your first page till it sparkles!

I find it interesting, that in writing courses you're always told that the first page and the first chapter of your book have to be absolutely captivating if you want to get it published. "You must have a hook!" "It must be easy to read." "Publishers will stop reading if they're not won over by the first page." "Readers will give up, and give bad word-of-mouth, if the first chapter doesn't grab them."

And yet everyone I know who's read the Stieg Larsson Millenium trilogy says the first couple of chapters of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are slow, difficult, boring, annoying - but once you get past them, the rest of the trilogy is fab.

So are Swedish publishers different? Do readers feel a sense of pride in slogging through difficult text? Or is Larsson the exception that proves the rule?