1. WritingGuru
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    WritingGuru New Member

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    How to write a beginning to catch a reader's interest?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by WritingGuru, Mar 10, 2010.

    Hello all, I'm new here and I'm happy that I found this writing forum. :)

    I'm writing a romance about a 18 y.o. gothic girl who's searching for her vocation of life. The story tells how she feels in love with several painters and live with them in an abandoned house where they all gather up together to talk about their life. All of them are 23-28 y.o. best friends, but when they meet this girl, the conflict begins.

    Well sorry for my poor English, because I write this book in my native language. The biggest problem is that I know the middle part of the story and the ending. But I don't know how to write a beginning. How do she meet these painters in her life, because she's too simple schoolgirl living with her grandmother in one city and they are living in the other city. Should I begin telling it from the end when she's 26 y.o. and has already found a love of her life and her vocation of life? Or should I begin from her adolescence? The hardest part is to think HOW they met each other and WHY they met each other.

    I want this beginning catch a readers eye immediately from the first sentences. It should be very uncommon and unexpected. Please help me with some ideas. I would be so grateful.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It seems more like a plotting problem than an actual writing problem. I'd recommend you sit down and think through your plot, maybe write out an outline to help you get it clear for yourself. Given the kind of story you're writing, the outline could really just be a summary of her life, and then when you start writing the story you can decide at what point to jump in. But really, you should have clear the how and why before you start the actual writing.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's good advice from banzai... it's what i would advise, also...
     
  4. Manic056
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    Manic056 Member

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    Welcome.

    Seems to me Grandma has to die. SLOW. :D

    Would fill a plot whole.
     
  5. bruce
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    bruce Active Member

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    I would normally start a story when the conflict begins. That's one way to catch a reader's interest.
     
  6. pinelopikappa
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    pinelopikappa Senior Member

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    I agree with Bruce. Homer did it for the Illiad. He doesn't describe the war from the beginning, but he starts at the conflict that leads to the end. This is an excellent way, but you'll have to use your skills to weave the past events into the plot. It's perfect if you think about it for many reasons, one of them being it's very forgiving to plot surprises etc. Plus your work is tighter and you are more focused. I am not just talking about a good opening paragraph, but for the entire structure of the piece.
     
  7. PJ.Paradox
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    PJ.Paradox Member

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    Start with passion and action. Even if the activity is all inside the character rather than physical events, make sure that there is a sense that something is happening from the very first sentence. Think of it like... opening the wrong door on a cruise ship and discovering a party. You can find out what the party is about later, your initial reaction to the what you see is what will leave the impression. The same is true for giving your reader the first glimpse into your story - background information can come later, you need to grasp your reader with sensation and experience.


    In your example.... it sounds like she loves several partners at once and they all live together if I understand you correctly. One suggestion might be to start with her cuddled up with one of those partners, showing genuine affection for him or her with her body language, but also having her think loving/affectionate about another person who is in the same room with them watching TV. The contrast is something that is uncommon, so it should snag some interest, but whether you can hold that interest depends on what you choose to describe and how you choose to do it.

    Be blunt. Use proper nouns. Don't hold back. If there is a guy named Jack, you can say "Jack is on the tattered couch listening to the radio wearing his favorite flannel has a chronic scent and color always reminds me of the last time I got sick on the Disney land tea cups. " It's better than "the man" or some such. In paragraphs to come, if you have her thinking about "Jack" and the person she might be nuzzling or kissing then we'll come to know who exactly that is using active language rather than boring summary. In the case of setting.... granted I do see a lot of books that have early long descriptions of the environment, but I usually prefer to have a just few, and then describe the rest of the details through the characters interaction with their surroundings.

    Focus on sensation if it is appropriate... heart beat... breathing of the characters... body heat.... things that indicate emotional state without necessarily saying it. I tend to think of these things as more gripping than simply indicating an emotion, UNLESS it is via dialogue or internal monologue/dialogue where a STRONG sense of character voice is established. Usually this would be used in characters that are extremely opinionated.
     
  8. WritingGuru
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    WritingGuru New Member

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    Thank you P.J.Paradox, your advise is very helpful for me. By the way, where could I find imaginative verbs or adjective dictionary online? For example if talking about light you can say "glowing, glittering, shining, radiating..." etc. Sometimes I feel hard to think of these words myself. Is there any dictionary online?
     
  9. PJ.Paradox
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    PJ.Paradox Member

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    thesaurus.com
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    just be VERY careful when grabbing words from a thesaurus!... look up their dictionary definitions first, to make sure it's what you mean, because all words in a thesaurus listing do not mean exactly the same thing... and one of the worst things i have to battle in mentees' work is their using inapt words they've mindlessly snatched from their roget's...

    i usually tell new writers to lock up their thesaurus till they don't need one...
     
  11. Eutheria
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    Eutheria Member

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    Oh how true. There was an assignment in a Latin course that required us to write about our friends. Someone decided to be creative and use one of the lesser words for "friendly". Amusingly the word actually had meant lascivious, invoking a whole different kind of "friendly".
     
  12. Amara
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    Amara New Member

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    I started out with a memory in first person from the main character in my prologue then started my chapters in third person...
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd recommend against beginning with a prologue. Or if you're bound and determined to write one, keep an open mind to removing it when you're finishing up. Much more often than not, you will improve the novel by binning the prologue.

    Why? Because most prologues are outside of the flow of the story. The sooner you enter the actual story, the better.
     
  14. mailcoach
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    mailcoach New Member

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    In a distant mirror darkly seen

    What if you think of something similar that really happened? Think of Mary Godwin (age 18) sitting in that rented Italian villa with poets Shelly and Byron. They were entertaining each other around the fire each night telling stories. She begins to tell Frankenstein. What if your character is spinning a tail and takes an occasional suggestion when she is pondering where to take the plot next and the competition shows in the interactions and in their artistic work--the paintings that are created.
     

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