By: Jeff Gerke
You’ve probably heard the adage that you must begin your novel with action—even if it’s not the main action of the book. While this rule is fairly well-accepted in fiction teaching circles, not everyone agrees with it.
What does it mean to begin a novel with action? Usually, car chases and explosions come to mind. But a lot of novels don’t have a single car chase and nary an explosion in the whole book, so then what would “action” constitute? It could be a
ballgame, an argument, a stage performance, someone’s
death, or a mysterious discovery. So long as it strikes the right tone for the
novel to come, any of these would be good choices.
But what if the writer doesn’t want to begin
with anything active happening at all?
Must a novel begin with action of some sort? Is there no other option?
We know there are great ways to begin a novel that are not action by almost anyone’s definition.
Call me Ishmael.
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that
ain’t no matter.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
those are just opening lines, not opening scenes, and those are drawn from
novels of yesteryear. But the point remains that it’s possible to have a great
novel that doesn’t begin with a tank blowing up.
What about a novel that begins with the unique voice of the narrator? What about a novel from the lyrical prose school of fiction?
My fourth novel begins with the hero finding out that he’s been assigned to kill someone—but the scene itself consists mainly of thinking and talking, not your typical description of an action-packed beginning.
Why It’s Often Smart to Begin with Action
. . .
Read the full article HERE!
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