Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

Latest news from Australian romance author Ally Blake, writer of fun, fresh flirty romance novels.

Monday 30 October 2006

the first page challenge

Julie Cohen has put out a first page challenge - for authors to show how they create character and conflict in the first few lines of a book. I am currently doing proof edits for my first Modern Extra book, GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS, so I have pasted the first time we meet each character here...


Flynn Granger was a leg man.

(Sorry, I love this line!!! I knew who my guy was the moment it hit the page ;))

‘You’ve got legs of your own so what’s the big deal?’ his best friend George would ask when the subject arose. Needless to say George was a breast man.

During such conversations Flynn would lift a trouser leg, showing off his favoured argyle socks and an unequivocally masculine calf covered in dark hair, with its scarred knee from a horse-riding accident, and shaped by years of bike riding and what amounted to an addiction to his rowing machine.

Then he’d say, ‘George, buddy, I may have two very fine legs of my own, but there is simply no comparison. The sight of a woman’s calf muscles working as she passes by in a pair of high heels does it for me every time. I love the slight criss-cross of the feet, I adore the soft indent behind the knee, and I am putty in the presence of a sway that starts at the floor and goes all the way up.

Here I would hope the reader would take Flynn as a laid-back, confident, lover of women! So far all character, no conflict. Hmmm... Interesting.


Abbey Parrish tugged her borrowed, too-tight pencil skirt downward, but the lowest she could manage without having the waistline around her hips was for it to end up three inches above her knees which was actually about three feet shorter than she would have preferred for it to be.

‘Five minutes is all I have allowed for you, Ms Parrish,’ said Wanda, a stern looking woman in head-to-toe navy, a pageboy haircut, and tiny glasses, as she led her into Flynn Granger’s office.

Abbey’s hand only shook a very little when she ran it over her smooth French twist. ‘I understand. And I appreciate you squeezing me in.’

Okay, so Abbey's not quite so confident. She'd rather not be in a short skirt, her hair is bound in a French twist, her hand shakes, she can't even think in grammatically correct sentences ;). And she's heading into the lair of a playboy...

Julie has made me realise many of my openings are all about character rather than conflict. I've quickly skimmed through a bunch of them, and I think it's really important to me that the character is likeable from the first line. That they are funny, or vulnerable, or empathtic, or dreamy. Whatever. So long as they make an instant connection with the reader I am happy for the story, and the conflict, to take a backseat...

How about you?