By: Chris Winkle
The beginning of your story can do many things, but one is more important than any other: capturing the reader’s interest. If they don’t keep reading, any other purpose – setting the tone, hinting at central themes, or whatever else - becomes pointless. As a reader who frequently doesn’t get past the first few pages, I’m going to share what inspires me to keep going.
Readers expect the beginning to be slow. Some will even wait through the first half for action and conflict to arrive.
But surprising them with action and conflict in your opening scene is the single most effective way to keep them reading. They aren’t going to put the story down while they are being entertained. They won’t even notice how many pages they’ve flipped through.
Sometimes it’s difficult to start the conflict of your story without setting the stage. The Lord of the Rings is more powerful because the audience witnesses the peace and innocence of the Shire, before being introduced to the dangers of the world. But in that case, the story can still open with a smaller conflict that introduces the themes of the larger one that follows.
What I don’t recommend is the common practice of highlighting the villain in the opening instead of the protagonist, through the eyes of a redshirt. This is done to allow action and set tension, while keeping the main character in a state of blissful ignorance about the big problem at hand. It does that effectively, but it keeps writers from using the next tool in this kit.
Meeting the Protagonist
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Read the full article HERE!
If you missed my writing & marketing tweets and retweets yesterday, here they are again:
- The Keys to a Great Opening Scene http://ow.ly/AtZ0m
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- Failure, Writing’s Constant Companion | The Passive Voice | http://ow.ly/Au3pN
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- Catherine, Caffeinated | Writer, astronaut, skinny – Catherine Ryan Howard wouldn't mind being any of those things. http://ow.ly/Auzqg
- Characters in Novels That Are Allies and Reflections | Live Write Thrive http://ow.ly/AuzzT
- Resources for Writers: Some Quick, Basic Tips for Writing a Riveting Short Story http://ow.ly/AuA1S
- How Much Back Story is Too Much | The Editor's Blog http://ow.ly/AuA76
- Anne R. Allen's Blog: 5 Protagonists Readers Hate: Why Writers Shouldn't Identify too Closely with a Main Character http://ow.ly/AuAhC
- Why the Outer and Inner Stories Must Cross | Stavros Halvatzis http://ow.ly/AuAtd
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- Author, Jody Hedlund: Put Your Best Work Out There: Avoid These 25 Newbie Writer Mistakes http://ow.ly/AuAXQ
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- Are Pre-Orders Right For You? | Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors http://ow.ly/AvhM4
- 4 Steps to the Ultimate Compelling Villain http://t.co/dsXU4V6zwn via @melissagmcphail
- Rejection Blues http://ow.ly/Avra8 @cjlyonswriter
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