Deconstructing A Bestseller: The Way I Used To Be

One of the proven paths to mastery in almost anything is to study the masters. 

Today I’m testing out a new series idea. 

Thankfully, in writing there is no shortage of masters. Books surround us everyday, whispering their secrets to those attentive enough to hear them. 

One current master is Amber Smith, author of the bestseller THE WAY I USED TO BE. 

Download a free ebook on crafting Bestseller titles 

Here is the opening paragraph to her book about the lasting vestigages of sexual abuse: 

Notice the first sentence. It rolls off the tongue. You don’t expect a story to start off telling you what someone doesn’t know, which is exactly why it works. Who is this person? What don’t they know? And why? 

All of these questions rush in at once, compelling the reader onward. 

What I also love are the flowing follow up sentences that build off the first. We find out what this person didn’t know, but the answers raise more questions — why did the door click shut? Who shut it? Why worry about locking the door? 

Something bad must have happened.

That’s the thing. The short intro paragraph not only pulls the reader along with growing curiosity but also with rising dread. 

Without being direct, the author reveals new layers of conflict and revelation. The reader comes to these conclusions on their own but only within the context carefully crafted by the author. 

So much information condensed into such tight literary real estate. 


What lessons can we, fellow word-slingers, cull from this excerpt? 

  • Start with something wrong
  • Describe things indirectly so readers come to their own (predestined) conclusions.
  • Raise a series of questions 

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Christopher Kokoski is a speaker, trainer and author of Wicker Hollow and the Past Lives novel series.

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Posted in Blog, Book cover, Book marketing, books, creativity, publishing, reading, screenwriting, Success, Uncategorized, writer, Writing

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