How to Write a Gripping Beginning

Wednesday, August 5


Photo from iambuttonbag.com

Well, I'm off the hook. Researched a bit on how to revise and most of them say to put away the rough draft and not look at it for a month. I think I might just follow their advice...


Speaking of hooks, I've been meaning to get around to doing a post on grabbing your reader on the first page. Or 'hooks' as they're usually called.

When I'm skimming through books, I generally read the first page. If it's dull, back it goes the book on the shelf. (And honestly, the whole "don't judge a book by its cover" rule is never obeyed by readers.)
So the first page is important.
Don't get freaked out, those of you who've yet to finish your rough draft. Each time you edit your story the first page changes, so you don't really need to worry about it until the final draft. (The final draft. That seems so far away...)

A few good examples of first lines that make you want to keep reading;

The King killed my canary today.
~Goose Chase, by Patrice Kindl

When the doorbell rings at three in the morning, it's never good news.
~Stormbreaker, by Anthony Horowitz

The best time to talk to ghosts is just before the sun comes up.
~Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson

And of course;
I'd never given much thought to how I would die...
~Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer

So, what happens when you're at the stage of composing an engaging first page?
For one thing, Once Upon a time is a thing of the past. Never. I forbid it. Unless of course, you're trying to be funny.
One of the best places to begin a book is in the middle of the action. ("I ducked the flashing blade..." that sort of thing.)
Or in the middle of dialogue. ("A spy? Here?" I said doubtfully.)

Begin as close to the end as possible
~Kurt Vonnegut (What a last name)

In Elizabeth Haydon's The Floating Island the story starts with the main character in a jail cell writing out the events that happened to get him there. That made the reader want to read on to find out how he got into such a sticky mess.

Option a) start with catchy dialogue
Option b) start with action
Option c) start in the middle of the muddle

1 comment(s):

Anonymous,  Wednesday, August 05, 2009  

MY fave beginnin is from the 3rd Narnia book: "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." :)

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