1. Ice Queen
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    Ice Queen Senior Member

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    Starting with a bang?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ice Queen, Mar 11, 2011.

    I need to start my novel in an interesting way to hook people into it; so I have several options for starting this. It's a sortof Sci-Fi type novel set in the year 2317 (chronological beginning). Which of these options do you think will be the most interesting?

    a) Back in Time in the Year 2101 when hundreds of children are being massacred to “protect mankind”. These children are genetic mutants who have developed a very dangerous power; and there is a definite sense of panic, urgency, violence and wrongness about the scene.

    b)MC1 on top of the roof of his luxury penthouse apartment in Zion (the last large human City in the world after a horrendous population decimation), looking down at the bustle of the city, queasy about an impending meeting with his father and pondering the smallness of the people below him.

    c)In the meeting with MC1's father- opening with a bit of dialog from the old man himself, then describing MC1 a little and his reaction- reveal their relationship a bit and then reveal a new sense of panic about a new revelation in the plot (i.e. a resurgence of the previously mentioned genetic mutation, in MC2). Of course, the details of this will be sketchy.

    Sorry I'm not giving out much details about the plot here, it's just that I'm a little reluctant to post too mcuh about a W.I.P on the internet. :D'

    So which do you think sounds most promising? Whichever option I choose, I'll be including important dialogue, plot points, description and characterisation (except in option a, which takes place over 200 years before the story)
     
  2. Saturnfly
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    Saturnfly New Member

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    From my perspective, I'd go with a character introduction. You want your audience to connect with whom they're going to be sharing a delicate ride with for the duration of the novel.
    If you can create a character interesting enough to reel people in with the first paragraph, then I'm sure the rest will follow suit.

    I usually always start off with the present time, with the perspective of the MC. I don't like switching around a lot, as I'd probably confuse everyone haha.

    Although if you notice in things such as crime television series, they normally begin with the victim meeting their demise. I've read plenty of crime novels which add that kind of scene as their prologue, could obviously be inherited into a sci-fi story as well (aka, the "Back in Time in the Year 2101 when hundreds of children are being massacred" scenario).

    Just my opinion, of course. Not everyone writes the same way, it'd be boring if they did. Just go with what makes you comfortable.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you can use the dialogue to introduce your character it sounds the most intriguing to me.
     
  4. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    You have three ideas there.

    Why don't you write 3/400 words of each one and see which one works best.

    Look at the novels you've read - how did the authors of those books hook you in? (or did they?)

    One of Catherine Cookson's novels, I think it is 'The Fifteen Streets', The first line goes something like this: 'Ma come quick, the Kelly's are at it again' - that for me is a hook.
     
  5. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    If you ask me (and you did by posting the question in the forum), I'd have to say that in my opinion, the 1st option sounds like it might be the most gripping and compelling intro into your story, especially if you shifted perspective to your 3rd option half way through.

    What I mean is your opening scene could be one of a darkness, ash and smoke in the year 2101, where government stormtroopers, clad in their futuristic powered armor (to protect them from the whatever "germs" the mutants may have), are using their backpack powered lasers or advanced polymer-hyper-alloy assault rifles to exterminate crying, ragged, dirty, whimpering mutant children, behind chain link walls topped with razor wire. The darkness vanishes in an eruption of weapons fire and the silence is shattered by a combination of the deafening roar of automated weapons and the unholy screams of children dying horribly...

    Graphic details of the fear and terror in the eyes of unwashed child faces, the cold, brutal indifference of shiny, chromatic, powered armored stormtroopers and the horror and carnage suffered by the children, if done properly, could be spun into a heart wrenching and emotionally compelling scene to draw your reader in further to see this horrible injustice righted during the course of your story.

    Skipping a line and shifting gears to your MC and his dialog with his father, should incorporate some of the details of why such massacres are happening, how it effects the MC and at least an intention of what the MC intends or wishes to do about it.

    That is your story hook to grab the reader's attention, create an emotional investment in the story and characters, and inspire them to read your work through to see how it ends.

    Just my two pence...
     
  6. Ice Queen
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    Ice Queen Senior Member

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    I like this idea actually. See, I thought I really want to include that scene with the children because it's incredibly important to recognise the total fear and paranoia about these "mutants" (I need a better word for their kind.. something cool...). And of course, I also need to convey a little bit of danger FROM the mutant children- I was thinking of having a few guards killed by them too. Hmmm! Today I was going over what people had said here and I thought about maybe doing this part as a Prologue; and then switching into the present time with MC and pop- and the hints of a resurgence of danger. (Hopefully the reader will want to know what these mutants can actually do, why they arise and why they are so dangerous... OwO)
     
  7. bumblebot
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    bumblebot Senior Member

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    I think any of those three options could be written in a way that will make a reader interested.

    However, not to make any assumptions about how you write, but I have seen the prologue-in-the-past thing done before, and while it can be a good way to get people curious, it can also be an easy way to dump a lot of expositional information in one place so you don't have to worry about it later. If there is a way to take the same information conveyed by the execution scene, and lace it through the narrative gradually, then I would think that would be better.
     
  8. JPLayne
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    JPLayne Member

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    I agree with doing a little free writing on each of the ideas and see which direction feels right for the overall flow of the book. If something does not work as an intro it still may find itself in the book in another way.
     
  9. Booker
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    Booker New Member

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    I'd suggest opening with an event - an irreversible change that will propel the plot forward. Your first suggestion seems best to me in that regard. The second doesn't sound like an event at all (pondering is rather dull), although if he makes an actual decision that might qualify. As for the third, it sounds like preamble to an event (the revelation), which could work as long as the preamble is brief. Or why not start with the revelation/discovery itself and fill in the background later?
     
  10. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    In a way, it is less about what you write but how you write it.

    Sure, you need a relevant opening scene but given that any one of the three would be appropriate, what you write about is more important. I look at the opener as an unanswered question that the reader feels they must read through the book to get the answer.

    So, as you write it, what is the question that the book must answer?

    If you know that, then the opener will present itself to you and you won't have to search as much for it.
     
  11. tiggertaebo
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    tiggertaebo Member

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    I can understand the need to establish some backstory regading the children and the massacres, but I quite like the second option. How about using a prolouge for the massacres, maybe by using snippets of news articles - it would be a good way to establish an atmosphere of fear for those events? You could even present articles from different sources with some supporting the actions and some maybe being appalled by them?

    You could then open the first chapter with the relative calm of the guy in his appartment and go from there. Oh and one request (tip?) please change the name of the city! Post apocalyptic "last human city" called Zion? If I saw that in a blurb I'd immediately assume the author had seen the Matrix trilogy way too many times and put it straight back on the shelf.
     

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