Monday, December 12, 2022

Start first lines of your book with conflict by Jan Scarbrough

First lines are important – they make you want to keep reading

When I took an online class about writing conflict in novels, we were instructed to begin each novel with conflict. Period. If we have no trouble in the first sentence, paragraph, or page, the reader might put down the book and never read another word.

Did I learn the lessons? Here are some first lines from my contemporary western romances.

Kentucky Cowboy

“That’s one rank sonofabitch. Good draw you got, Romeo.”

Perched on top of a six-foot deep metal chute, a leather bull rope clutched in his right hand, Judd Romeo nodded, acknowledging the flank man. “Yep, he’s a mean ’un.”

Dawsons of Montana Series


He was home.

Brody Caldera’s heart quickened as he turned the key to the door of his high-rise apartment on North Sheridan Road.


Drake Hawkins’ heart surged. Damn! He loved this sport.


Charles Martin Kingston pulled off the main road into the parking space beside his half-brother’s twenty-five-million-dollar beach house … Something was wrong. He’d known it all week, but he’d tried to ignore the gut feeling. Now it punched him hard in his stomach. What would he do if anything happened to his baby brother?


Leigh Weston surveyed the buffet table and moved a couple of dirty plates from the edge to the separate dish cart. So far, the reception was going gangbusters.

Ghost Mountain Ranch


Six Buckles Guest Ranch
December 2018

Hank Slade rested a forearm on his saddle horn and leaned against it. He peered through the ears of his horse across the valley shrouded in a mantle of snow that stretched out below him. Sagebrush, still smelling pungent and sweet despite the weather, poked through the otherwise unbroken, white landscape. Warmer air from the creek-fed lake generated a ghostly haze in the valley so that the ranch cabins, lodge, and outbuildings appeared cloaked, as if hiding from the world.

Just like Hank wanted to do—hide—or, better yet, run away.


February 1971

He was dead.


April 2019

She was dead.


Winnetka, Illinois
July 2017

She was dead. Claire was dead.


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