1. Sanehouse
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    Sanehouse New Member

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    Beginning a novel with dialogue?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sanehouse, Sep 14, 2010.

    Is it considered acceptable to begin a novel (not the prologue, but the first chapter) with someone speaking?
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have mine it has had positive feedback so far. If it grabs people don't see why not.
     
  3. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    I'd say "perfectly fine" but lately I'm discovering lots of new taboos. ;)
     
  4. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is no problem at all. Just make sure its useful dialogue, and tries to hook the reader from the go.
     
  5. Sanehouse
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    Sanehouse New Member

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    Alright, thanks. I'm just not really sure how to start the novel. Woe is me!
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just spew it out you can always change it later.
     
  7. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, but try not to let it wander on like a script for more than a line or two - if you're going to carry on the conversation for the rest of the scene, throw in plenty of description throughout, because there's only so long a few bare lines will hold the interest, however grabbing the content is. Even plays, read on paper, have a few notes on where they are and who's talking. :p I've seen people write stories that start pretty much with conversations that might only start using "he said" or something more than halfway through after a name is used, and pretty much no description elsewhere on the page, and it was dire. There was just no connection.

    That said, they might not have been the best writers, so maybe if you wanted to start just with speech, as long as you were, like, Shakespearenly good at conveying setting through dialogue and blah like that, you could get away with it.

    But then your talents are wasted in prose, and you should be writing scripts anyway.

    Melzaar's gonna shut up now. :p
     
  8. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Why wouldn't it be?

    I don't seem to recall anyone ever saying "If the first chapter begins with characters speaking, I'm throwing the book away".
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Of course it's ok.
     
  10. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I am definitely not going to throw it away :) But I prefer introduction to the setting and char in elegant prose (not over descriptions) in the first few paragraphs. This way I can gauge the style of written prose I can expect in the book. Also from the writers point of view, it acclimatized (for want of a suitable word) the readers to his/her style of writing.
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    you can do that and still have dialogue though.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You can do whatever works.

    The problem is that you don't know the characters before the dialogue begins. But truly, you don't know any character before the story begins, unless the character is carried over from another book. Still, some readers seem to be less comfortable with dialogue if they don't know the character than they are with narrative.

    I think it's a subtle distinction, and hardly insurmountable. As a writer, you can even make use of the discomfort.

    You can do whatever works.
     
  13. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Yes, definitely you can, and I am not adverse to it. It's just my personal preference. I guess I just don't want to know a name before I know a bit about the char behind it :)
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's done all the time... from well, to abysmally... don't know why you even had to ask... go check out the opening sentences in a batch of novels and see for yourself...

    see if you can tell when it works and when it doesn't...
     

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