1. Sapphire
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    Sapphire Senior Member

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    The beginning of a story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sapphire, Oct 23, 2006.

    At the beginning of the story, the opening paragraph, what should it be like? For me, I thought it would have to include words that would hook you and make your stomach turn. At least, that's what I was told. In my novel that I am writing now, that I just got a start on today, I want the opening paragraph to be one that someone can be like 'whoa, I need to keep reading'.

    Does anybody have any tips or pointers for me that could make an opening to a book more interesting?
     
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  2. IndianaJoan
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    IndianaJoan Contributing Member

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    I try to always open my books with an event..usually a triggering event that somehow ties in with my story.

    But if you have no real triggering point that is appropriate to starting a story, then what I suggest is that you introduce your main character in some fashion that gives the reader a sense of wanting to know more about that person.

    Characters drive a story and even the most mundane of events can be interesting if told in an interesting and easily visualized manner.
     
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  3. Sapphire
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    Sapphire Senior Member

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    The prologue that I have posted in the Novel section has something to do with a very big plot point in later events that will be revealed, but since I'm not going to be posting the entire novel on here, I can't really give it away. ;)

    But what I'm trying to say is that IF you do have a prologue or an opener sentence, is it imparative that you have it so the first sentence is a big hook to the reader to encourage them to keep reading?
     
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  4. KaitonLocke
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    KaitonLocke Member

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    I normally start with a mood and transition from that into a character introduction. I try to make the mood(s) of the story apparant from the get go, but I also throw other moods in the mix as to keep the story from being repetitive.
     
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  5. IndianaJoan
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    IndianaJoan Contributing Member

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    I dont think its so important to have that STELLAR first sentence. The one that just reaches out and grabs you by the throat..I mean by all means its nice to have that..but i rarely put down a book because the first sentence isnt an award winner. HOWEVER, if something in that first paragraph doesnt really catch my eye..I generally wont pick it up again.
     
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  6. Hellbent
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    Hellbent Senior Member

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    Yeah, it's funny 'cause I've also been told to make my openers sound gripping or serious so it grab's the reader's attention, but I'm not like that.

    If I read a starting sentence around the likes of: "Mary sat on a deteriorating dock and looked out to her favorite lake in the whole world." I wouldn't be like, "hmm, you know what, I really don't like that deck, so this book goes back."

    Actually I don't read much modern novels, they're all murder/suspense. Usually I don't even flip to the first page, I just flip it over and read the back and if it hints towards suspense/thriller/murder/mystery I put it back on the shelf.

    Heh. Actually the best opener I've ever read was in a book called "Choke" by Chuck somethingorother (the author of Fight Club) The first page or two is him telling you not to read his book. Nothing good will come to you from reading this book, he says. Go do something more important with your time. Anything at all. Anything would be better than reading this story.

    Ha-ha. Great stuff
     
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  7. Peter
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    Peter Member

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    I agree that the first sentence doesn't need to be used as the "hook", only as a building block to the opening paragraph. In fact, how many truly great first sentences are there? I really like Anton Chekhov's The Lady With the Little Dog's opener ("People said that there was a new arrival on the Promenade: a lady with a little dog"), because it hints at the protagonist hunting for flesh blood, but this only becomes apparant once you're fully into the story. So I think trying to write the best possible opening paragraph is the better way to go.

    But the best first sentence I've come across is from Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis: "As Grega Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

    That's just perfect. It has everything: setting, character, mood, theme, genre, intrigue.

    If only I could write an opener like that!
     
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  8. Sapphire
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    Sapphire Senior Member

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    Okay, I get what all of you are saying and all of you have different opinions on this, but my main worry is the opening sentence in the novel I am writing. Here's my opening paragraph:

    Within the dead of night, one foul whisper echoed off the trees and fell into silence, signaling an end to peace. The night’s dark blanket covered the sky, casting an evil look down upon the land of Garedia. There were no stars twinkling, no chirps of crickets—not even the hoots of the owls.

    That's the opener paragraph to my novel.
     
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  9. IndianaJoan
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    IndianaJoan Contributing Member

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    OK i read your other thread with you opening in it.

    This is the edit I would do on it. You have some issues with sentence structure and so on..BUT its a great start and an eye catching opener.

    heres the edit..take a look at it..and compare it to what you had. What you had wasnt bad, it was just a bit wordy and repetitive.

    "The night’s dark blanket covered the sky, casting a dark shadow upon the land of Garedia. There were no stars twinkling, no chirps of locusts—not even the hoots of the owls. The secrecy of the night meant a malignant omen was coming to pass. Ice cold rain poured from the black clouds, pelting the leaves of the forest trees and flowing to the grass below where it disappeared into the soil. Amidst the constant downpour was the thunderous sound of stampeding horses, their hooves slapping against the sodden earth. Within the darkness, one foul whisper echoed off the trees and fell into silence, signaling an end to peace. "
     
  10. Lashes5000
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    Lashes5000 New Member

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    I know this isn't what you're looking for but I just want to point out this issue with structure.

    You wrote:
    There were no stars twinkling, no chirps of locusts—not even the hoots of the owls.

    But structurally, it would be cleaner to write:
    There were no stars twinkling, no locusts chirping --not even a single owl hooting.

    You went from an active voice to a passive voice and that doesn't read well.
     
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  11. Felony
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    Felony Contributing Member

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    nicely done lashes5000. I like how clean that was.
     
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