Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Georgew, Mar 17, 2011.
Self explanatory question really, what are your thoughts?
Well, for me personally, action. I like to start everything I do with some sort of dramatic action that hooks the reader in and makes them want to see what happens next. The most important thing is, you can't let them down after that, you have to keep it up.
I would agree with Trish, and I would do the same thing. I normally start out with an openning scene and not just exposition. The setting is normally the first paragraph I would use, and then the character's actions with the other characters. Exposition I would add between the action to denote why the scene is taking place.
In my opinion, if you start out with info dumping, it may bore the reader, and they might think that you are doing a lot of telling rather than showing. On the other hand, some science fiction and history stories might require writers to put exposition in the openning paragraph, but if it's like a romance or general fiction story, I would use action.
I am not sure, I do know my goal in my current project is to hook the reader gaining empathy for the MC before I rip the rug out from under her sending her world off it's axis.
How our characters act and react to minor every day annoyances gives us a way to show who they are rather than tell
that being said when we change location we need to weave it in.....
People like things that have structure. Introduce ideas/characters/scenarios that make your audience curious. Something that makes them want you to tell them more. This is extremely important for fantasy and science fiction, but bare with me even if your writing is more realistic.
Look at the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. You have a whole bunch of very strange things happening that the reader is not able to explain. You're left wondering, and J.K. Rowling leaves it concealed. You're given a question that drives you to read until you find the answer. By the time you get the answer you wanted, you have even more questions and so you keep reading until the end of the book.
Catch-22 is written in a similar way. Yossarian keeps referring to many past events, Snowden's death chief among them. However, you don't see Snowden's death until the end of the book. You're left wondering what the answer is.
If you depend solely on the wit and action of the moment, if you ever ever hit a slow spot, your reader will put the book down and maybe never come back. Who can blame them if there's nothing compelling? Leaving the reader with unresolved questions though, that will carry over everything you have to offer them until late into the night.
My other advice is do the unexpected, but I think I'm done writing for now.
Agreed, that's what I meant about not letting them down after, but I guess I didn't word that part very well. I said it in my head
It has to be interesting, that's all I need. I have read great books that begin with description, action, dialogue, some random character's thoughts etc. The only important thing is that it is interesting. My favourite opening is the Dark Tower's "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." It can be anything, really =)
That is a classic opener indeed, perhaps King's best.
Something that poses interesting dichotomy, like: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." I guess you know the rest.
Or: She had not expected to get a letter from John, her husband--he had been dead for more than a year.
I would start with a scene with a with an ordinary element easy to relate to, and something unexpected out of the ordinarily.
A few examples of good introduction showing what I mean.
The kings speech:
Ordinary - an important person holding a speech
Unexpected - his stuttering getting in the way, unableling him to make a sound.
V (2009) series
Ordinary- People n every day scenes
Unexpected -When sort of a small earthquake happens
Ordinary- An adopted boy on miserable turns with his step family
Unexpected - A magical letter
Ordinary: A housewife presenting her every day life
Unexpected: Up to the point when she kills herself
An introduction must be the end of an untold joke. The end of a story that has yet to start.
I think the key is simple - start the story. Don't mess around giving introductions get right in there - show where you are going rather than tell.
The key? Don't bore the reader!
Yes, that's a glib response, but the principle is sound anyway. Don't start by giving background information - the reader isn't ready for that, and it has no immediate relevance.
Generally, I prefer to begin with a character overcoming a problem. It doesn't have to be mortal peril, but begin to show a character's personality by how she or he deals with a challenge. You can give the reader a pretty good taste of what's to come in a scene like that.
But don't overwhelm the reader either. The open should focus on no more than one or two characters, so the reader gets a good grasp of them. Any additional characters will need to be reintroduced, and they shouldn't distract the reader too much from the initial character or two.
Separate names with a comma.