1. Gambler
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    Gambler New Member

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    Opening Lines

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Gambler, Jul 12, 2011.

    Am I the only one who has trouble thinking of a fitting line to open a story? Inspiration hits me and a story unravels in my mind, yet I get stuck on that first sentence. I can never decide how best to open a scene.
     
  2. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Heh, the opening line is one of the hardest bits to write in any book. So no, you are not exactly the only one. :)
     
  3. Gambler
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    Gambler New Member

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    That's good to hear. :p

    I also hope that I'm not the only one who gets incredibly frustrated because of that elusive opener. I've dropped an entire scene because I couldn't quite think of how to start it. :(
     
  4. MRD
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    MRD Senior Member

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    Just start it with something simple like, say, "Bob grimaced, he had never liked...".

    You can always go back and change it, make it better, some time in the future. What's important right now is getting pen to paper, and bringing your story to life. After all, you can't clean something that doesn't exist, and having something that's messy is better than having nothing at all.
     
  5. Gambler
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    Gambler New Member

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    I've never been a fan of opening a story directly with a character, but I see what you're saying. I don't even have to begin with the beginning when I sit down to write.
     
  6. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I have trouble with it too, especially when you consider how many famous opening lines there are and how good they are....
     
  7. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    I struggle with the first sentence at the start of everything, that include essays, papers, short stories, poetry, and even chapters of a story. For me, the first sentence is like the doorway into the rest of the work or sections of it. It sets the flow and helps me decide how things will turn out. It is not always easy finding the right words to use to get the story flowing the way I want.
     
  8. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    My standard procedure is to start with a character waking up.
     
  9. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    First and last sentences aren't such a problem for me personally.

    I like to start off with something very much to-the-point. I think the 'waking up' or weather report beginnings are overused, but if you can bring something fresh to that, not a problem as such.

    I guess it's psychological more than anything. I wouldn't worry about 'great opening lines' and all that and just write something. It can always be changed later.

    Good luck
     
  10. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Opening lines are probably the hardest because you've got to grab your reader. If your opening line isn't good, why would anyone read on?

    Don't worry about it until you go back and edit though. Get whatever ideas you have down and you can go back to writing the opening line. I write passages that have no start or end or anything all the time, it's just an idea and I work from there.
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't feel beginnings are that much of a problem for me, at least I usually come up with them quite fast and stick to them in most cases. the endings are more difficult, but when I do come up with one I usually seem to hit the right feeling. It's all the words in between that is the problem, hehe.
     
  12. Laura Mae.
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    Laura Mae. Member

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    The opening line needs to convey the mood or tone of either the whole piece or that particular section (the beginning). Some books will have the same tone throughout, some will grow and change throughout. A tone or mood is like... sombre, ironic, romantic, funny, thrilling, inspirational etc.

    If you're writing a sad story, start with something sad, or an allegory of something sad. A thriller? Start with something catchy, fast-paced and intriguing. Inspirational? Write about something uplifting and meaningful. The first line should set the scene for the whole seen to unfold - there's no point writing about something something sad or depressing if the story is going to be funny and exciting. Good luck, I hate first lines too.
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Unless something important happens early in the morning, I think this is a mistake. If the first important event that happens is in the late afternoon, I don't think we need to read about getting up, showering, having breakfast, going to work, etc. etc. etc. - all the standard everyday stuff.

    I think a writer should begin very close to the first important event, so that the plot gets rolling. Sure, you can have a paragraph or two of character introduction, but something important to the plot should happen very early on.

    I feel a bit strange writing this post, because my novel begins with the main character waking up, but I think I can get away with it because the event that kicks off the plot happens almost immediately after that.
     
  14. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    My creative writing teacher made his students swear that we'd never use this as an opening to any of our stories, but I guess I'm not the only one who thinks it's not a bad way to start something! :) (Although I agree with minstrel--I would only use this if something important happened when the MC woke up!)
     
  15. Brandogg12
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    Brandogg12 Active Member

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    Best opening lines I can think of come from Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton: "A man with binoculars. That is how it began: with a man standing by the side of the road, on a crest overlooking a small Arizona town, on a winter night."
     
  16. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I never start writing with the beginning, either. I start in the middle and work my way back.
     
  17. [ESCAPE]
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    [ESCAPE] Member

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    If you're really that stuck on the opening line, think of a word that has some connection with the story/ending.

    For example, a story about some alien: Aliens. Blah blah.

    Or a story where someone dies from cancer: Death. Blah blah.
     
  18. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I Agree. Only way it could work as i can imagine is if something important is about to happen that day and you want to prepare the reader and raise the expectations to what is to come, or to make a contrast to how ordinary and normal everything was right before that happened.
     
  19. Gambler
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    Gambler New Member

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    Unless it is a short story or brief sketch of a scene, I couldn't image starting immediately with something important. Interesting for sure, but important? My preference is to build up to importance.

    I've entertained thoughts of opening in the midst of a storm, or in a character's dream.
     
  20. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Ah, yes, the opening.

    I remember my story about a creature called Guilt. I pondered between the lines:
    "Guilt stared into my eyes, unblinking, a hunter without fear pondering his prey"
    and
    "That goddamn creature grinned its grin at me, like it was savoring the moment, the way I savor it when I come up with a really witty comeback or throw a really good punch."

    Obviously, the opening line alone establishes a hook and changes how you write your story.
     

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