Do you have a problem with the beginning of your book? I know I certainly did. I was very insecure about how Dobyns Chronicles should start, but I finally made a decision. “OLD AGE IS hell, but it’s something all of us have to go through.” Right or wrong you have to make a choice. I wanted the opening to establish the voice of Charley Dobyns and to set the tone. I don’t skip around when I write. I have to have the beginning before I can go on with my writing.
You must have a strong opening and that’s not easily done. Duff Brenna, author of Too Cool, a New Times Noteworthy book stated his beginnings stay in flux also. Sometimes the second or third sentence may be the best beginning or even the second or third chapter. We seem to do a lot of rearing of our words to get the beginning that strikes the right cord with us.
I used a dialogue opening which can pique a readers’ curiosity. I noticed a lot of writers go for the scenic opening. The real question is what type of opening will cause your reader to go on though the story. I know for myself that I have picked up a book and read the first page and put it back on the self. If it doesn’t grab my attention, I don’t read it. A good first page captures the reader’s interest and makes them want to read on.
Ellen Sussman, author of A Wedding in Provence, tends to open her novels with a scene. “I want to ground my readers in my fictional world.” She says. “It’s as if I want them to jump right in and join the characters in action. I try to make sure that the opening scene captures some of the tension of the novel as well as introducing the main character and the setting. Of course, the tone gets established right away as well. Tall order for one scene!”
Does your beginning have conflict? Conflict is what drives all fiction. Readers may tend to have certain expectations about an opening based on what genre it is. The avid mystery reader is on the outlook for the story’s victim. Readers also keep an eye out for the protagonist. Even in fantasy a reader has to know that they are in another world where there may be wonders or terror. It doesn’t matter the genre, the beginning has to contain the components to catch your reader.
“Crafting the beginning takes careful attention, patience and a flair for the dramatic” said Jack Smith the author of the article Start to Stop which this blog was based on. It is a major investment of time and energy so we have to make the beginning the best we can make it. Happy writing.