1. Merlin
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    Merlin Member

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    How to drag readers in right from the start... HELP!

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Merlin, Nov 8, 2011.

    Hey guys, Merlin here. Here's a kind of premise for my story that I'm working on.

    Now, how do I begin my story with an opening that'll drag readers in from the get go? I have several beginnings in mind, some more dramatic than others:

    Opening One: A prologue that focuses on a dogfight in space above Earth, involving Scott's spaceship getting shot down by the invaders.
    Potential Problems: I have no experience writing dogfights, and going undetected by the humans below could cause a problem.

    Opening Two: Scott rescuing Naomi/Luke from bullies.
    Potential Problems: Has the possibility of being cheesy and therefore uninteresting. If possible, I want to avoid the cheese.

    Opening Three: Scott sitting next to Naomi on the bus to college or in a college lesson.
    Potential Problems: Too boring, could be cheesy and doesn't really grab the audience's attention.

    Opening Four: Going home from a gig, Naomi finds herself attacked by bounty hunters believing her to be what Scott has transformed into. Scott manages to save Naomi, but has to give her a memory pill to make her forget the experiences with the aliens.
    Potential Problems: Kind of similar to the first episode of Torchwood, potential to be cheesy.

    Opening Five: Any other suggestions that you may come up with.

    Hope this is enough information for you, and if not - I can always expand if you want.
     
  2. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    I like idea no. 2, if it's well written it's unlikely to be cheesy.

    I'm not a fan of prologues, they usually put me off reading the first chapter.
    I like a book to start slowly with a bit of mystery.

    You've got a great story idea there.
     
  3. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    A little cheese now and then isn't so bad. I think the action-packed scenes are going to be a little cheesier than the second and third ones, since the reader isn't familiar with the setting. I agree with weedie, I like books that start out slow (the kind of slow where you want to keep reading, not the kind that starts out with eight chapters of prose).
     
  4. hyperchord24
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    hyperchord24 Member

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    Best to start with some kind of conflict. Maybe about why he has no memory. I'd be pissed and dissoriented if I had no past. Then that conflict evolves into him finding out he's a shapeshifter and away you go.
     
  5. muscle979
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    muscle979 Member

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    The first scene could be Scott himself evading bounty hunters. It kind of throws you into the story and he's not rescuing Naomi. So you don't have to worry about being cheesy at that point.
     
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  6. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    If I was writing this, I would start chapter one off with a POV from these aliens. So you can see a little about them and their goals. After that I would switch the POV to Scott with your opening #2. But I would have him try to save them; but fail. Since I personally would not want him to start out as a badass right off the bat. Plus, he cant shapeshift in public. (I think?)

    That right there would personally hook me if I was reading this.

    You could also continue the hook and have it be the main plot of the story by having these bullies steal something important from Scott (maybe something that will help him stop the invasion?) and also something sentimental from Naomi. That way he has a way to look like a hero in front of Naomi, but he can keep his real desire for wanting to find them secret. Then once it is found you can reveal to Naomi and Luke what he is, and that these bullies are alien familiars. Then these alien familiars once found, captured, and interrogated can then give Scott some info on the invasion. Then the second half of the book can go from there.

    Haha, sorry, I didn't mean to completely take over your idea. Once the juices start flowing it is hard for me to stop them. But, these are just some ideas off the top of my head. I hope it helps in some way or another.
     
  7. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I like this idea and if Scott doesn't know he's a shapeshifter yet he could figure it out during this scene. That kind of twist for the MC would make me want to keep reading.
     
  8. Merlin
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    Merlin Member

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    Thanks for the comments and ideas folks, wasn't expecting this many this quickly. And yeah, Scott is trying to avoid shape shifting in public (In fact, avoiding shape shifting at all).

    I'm still open to suggestions if anybody's got any other ideas at the moment. I reckon I'll try writing an opening for each idea that comes to mind, and pick the most well written and go from there.
     
  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Try to figure out which event that leads up to everything else, the moment that everything changed. "start with change" they say. "Start with the day that's different" said someone else. it all comes down to the same thing. then you have to decide if you want to start just a little bit before that, so the reader can get to know the character a tiny bit in order to make him care about the mc when he gets himself into trouble, or if you want to start right when the action begins to sweep the reader off his feet and make it impossible to stop reading. there are a few decisions to make here. i would advice against starting with a prologue, write the story first, and if you really feel there should be one you can always write it after you've finished the rest.
    it's easy to start the story too early, most often you can start off later than you think. I know for myself that after having finished the revision and editing and before sending the novel to the publishers I eliminated the prologue and cut down the first two chapters with about 50%...
    Also, don't feel you must explain everything in the first chapter or two before the actual story begin. That's part of the fun for the reader, getting to know the character and the world he's in while reading. :)
     
  10. Zechin
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    Zechin New Member

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    I personally believe that the opening one and two are the best of your opening ideas. Although Opening one may require more work, opening two could just start off with a BANG!, but if you start like that you'd have to work even harder at the plot development for example what happens in the middle of the story(climax).
     
  11. ic1978
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    ic1978 Member

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    So the story is HARRY POTTER only "Harry" isn't a wizard, he's a shape shifter? That's what it sounds like, but of course, and this is usually the case; I could be wrong.

    OPENING TWO is less confusing and the setting is pretty common. Somewhat into the story you can introduce this unexpected sci-fi world.
     
  12. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I don't see the connection to Harry Potter at all. With the exception of him being an orphan. Which JK was hardly the first person to write about one.
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How old is this guy? You make him sound like he's 14.

    As for openings, I don't really like any of them. How about a prologue of the aliens hunting for Scott and he escapes? Alternatively, Scott witnessing the death of another person or the only other shapeshifter around, murdered by aliens.
     
  14. bazzie
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    bazzie Member

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    Oh this is so interesting.... how about:

    - The final moments of the plant on which the main characters parents took refuge? Basically a handful of shapshifters had fled there and they have been discovered. The prologue is essentially most of these guys giving their lives to ensure the "child" gets away safely.... you could reveal something of the relentlessness of the enemy here as well as potentially the powers that shapeshifters have...


    - You could do a scene set a few years before the main plot, where the main character first discovers his abilities? Assuming he doesn't discover them as part of your plot... possibly involving some element of violence against his foster parents or something.. perhaps it could be revealed later that the person attacking his foster parents was actually a scout for the main enemy and that this is how he revealed himself to them...

    - An alien commando team dropping down to earth... you get a feel for their mission (seek and destroy) as they do some significant violence as they land... then they set out on the hunt....

    I think its nice to have a prologie that is not just chapter 1 in disguise, so ideally different perspective and / or timeframe....

    good luck with this,

    bazzie
     
  15. ic1978
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    ic1978 Member

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    Really? Harry Potter jumped right out at me.

    As you said Orphan, two friends (young boy and girl), London, doesn't know his parents who are probably also shapeshifter ( harry's parents were wizards and so is he). A young boy with fantastic powers up against so incredible other worldly power. And some other comparisons but I covered the most obvious.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    One: Definitely no.

    Two: Might work just dandy. It would be cheesey if Scott were all wise and mature and philosophical and _different_ from his friends. If he's just an ordinary teenager furious at a threat to his friends, it could work fine.

    Three: Probably not. Too much opportunity for adorable. Adorable is bad.

    Four: Too big for the opening, IMO. The secrets should be revealed slowly.

    Five: Does _Scott_ actually have to know what he is? I would find Two far more interesting if whatever he does to beat the bullies comes as surprise to _him_. And ideally it would be something subtle, something producing a reaction less like, "Oh, my God, what are you?!" and more like, "Did I see... was there... didn't something weird happen? No? OK, maybe I do have a concussion."

    ChickenFreak

    Ooh. If Scott doesn't know what he is, the bullying threat doesn't have to be to his friends, it could be to him. They could rush in to rescue him, discover that they're in too deep, and then they all, with Scott's subtle-hey-how'd-you-do-that? thing, barely get out of the situation safely.

    The hero _being_ rescued, rather than the hero rescuing, is something that I would find much, much more interesting and less cheesy.
     
  17. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Orphans are in numerous books. He is in college (Harry is not). He is in love with one of his two friends (Harry is not). He is a shapeshifter (Harry is not). Alien invasion (there is none in Harry Potter). He is the last of his kind (Harry is not). London is in numerous books. He is in a band (Harry is not). This has space travel and dog fights (there is none in Harry Potter). None of this is Harry Potter in the least. You can generalize almost anything and compare it to something else if you really tried. "A young boy with fantastic powers" generalizes dozens, if not hundreds of books. But that doesn't mean they are all the same. Also, Harry Potter takes place mostly at Hogwarts and Privet Drive. They barely went to London.
     
  18. Merlin
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    Merlin Member

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    He's attending a British College, and a first year, so that normally makes him Sixteen. (He is 16).

    Thanks for the comment, I'm considering your idea now.

    I would answer that, except that JHunter's done a fantastic job already.

    Thanks for your suggestions, and for your information, I've tried going ahead with option four as a spur of a moment idea, but I don't like it right now. You guys have certainly given me some ideas, now to take pen to paper (Or rather, fingers to keyboard). :p.
     

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