Openings

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bcomet
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Openings

Post by bcomet » December 17th, 2010, 1:02 pm

Does your project open with a main or other character, a scene, an action?

I've recently been considering different ways a story can be opened.

Fenris
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Re: Openings

Post by Fenris » December 17th, 2010, 1:18 pm

Mine opens with an internal monologue from one of the main characters--the one who instigates everything, the cause of pretty much all the strife throughout the book. Or at least he's supposedly the trigger.

Immediately afterward, it switches to the POV of the protagonist (about 3 pages in).
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Watcher55
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Re: Openings

Post by Watcher55 » December 17th, 2010, 1:22 pm

Mine starts with a central character who has little to do with the main story line. A "pebble in the shoe", so to speak, of the protagonist, antangonist and the audience.

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Re: Openings

Post by Sommer Leigh » December 17th, 2010, 1:31 pm

Mine currently begins with my MC telling a short tale of a strange event that happened to her and her brother a week prior. It is a little actiony, but mostly just tense. Despite being mostly telling and not showing, this opening works really well with how the first couple of chapters unfold. The tale is about a page long. Originally I had the little tale happening in real time instead of the MC telling it, but it did not have the same impact. Weird, I know.

I originally wrote a prologue, and I love it, but I don't think I'm going to end up including it. I think it's great, I cannot reproduce it in the story, but ultimately I think the story works without it.

I do like original openings and designs of stories. I have a WIP on my backburner that I began for NaNoWriMo that I'm going to return to eventually where the first 3 chapters count down to an event that begins a sort of Chapter 1 and all three chapters happen at the same time at three different points in a city. They each interlace and connect briefly. I love it. There is a lot of action going on and in two of the three chapters there is very little dialogue. Chuck Palaniuk wrote a book where the end was the beginning and the whole book unfolded backwards. It worked really well. I think openings can happen in lots of ways and they don't necessarily have to look like every other opening.

One thing I personally don't like is being dropped into the middle of a major actiony scene where I have no idea what is going on, why, and who I am following. I know this is supposed to help you get right into the story, but it backfires on me. Maybe it is because I have no emotional connection to the characters in the middle of the action so there is no real tension or danger. I don't care yet what happens to them.
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bcomet
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Re: Openings

Post by bcomet » December 17th, 2010, 1:53 pm

I'm finding this so interesting. So thanks to all who have or will contribute to this thread.

I love mood. I love how a quote or a line or a thought can start the journey of a book. It sets a feeling down for me. A theme sometimes.

I also love action or meeting a main character as soon as possible so I begin to identify with him or her.

I have various openings and, Sommer, your comments are perfect (again!) for what I needed to hear at this moment in time.

Right now, I am tossing between a WiP that can open from a scene OR from an action. The first, I love. The second choice is much more compelling a hook. I could drop the scene in later I suppose, but it's a first look and important too.

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polymath
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Re: Openings

Post by polymath » December 17th, 2010, 2:15 pm

When I read critically I look for the introduction of the main dramatic complication, be it from a setting, plot point, idea, character, and/or event, SPICE. When I read for entertainment, I note when the plot engages me, which is invariably when the complication is introduced, a fundamental characteristic of plot.

I have openings that don't do that and now know why. I'm working on it for my current projects' openings. One is a setting situation introduction that complicates the characters' lives. Another is a clash of ideas. Another is a clash between characters.

A shortcoming I've found in my writing and others is not portraying a sense of the location of the narrative; setting time, place, and situation. Until the setting is reasonably well introduced it's like the narrative is coming from a disembodied mind in an infinite void.
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bcomet
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Re: Openings

Post by bcomet » December 17th, 2010, 2:29 pm

polymath wrote:A shortcoming I've found in my writing and others is not portraying a sense of the location of the narrative; setting time, place, and situation. Until the setting is reasonably well introduced it's like the narrative is coming from a disembodied mind in an infinite void.
Oh that's so pertinent to my question. Thanks for that point!

There is so much emphasis on getting right into the story, but if you don't know where you are...

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Re: Openings

Post by Margo » December 17th, 2010, 4:10 pm

bcomet wrote:
polymath wrote:A shortcoming I've found in my writing and others is not portraying a sense of the location of the narrative; setting time, place, and situation. Until the setting is reasonably well introduced it's like the narrative is coming from a disembodied mind in an infinite void.
Oh that's so pertinent to my question. Thanks for that point!

There is so much emphasis on getting right into the story, but if you don't know where you are...
I agree. However, it's equally important to avoid the disembodied landscape/weather opening. Ideally, I'd want to establish my POV character, my setting, my time, and at least a hint of my genre in the first 1-2 paragraphs.
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Re: Openings

Post by Sommer Leigh » December 17th, 2010, 4:16 pm

What if we all shared a first paragraph opening we've written and loved? Would that help?
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bcomet
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Re: Openings

Post by bcomet » December 18th, 2010, 2:08 pm

Sommer,
That's a brave idea.
I'd have to come out with my laces untied and my shoe size uncertain.
(Trying on shoes.)
I'd love to do it, but work-shopping is more my comfort zone and I will have to think on it before I publicly reveal my stocking feet.
(All those beautiful sentences that must die.)

~~

Here's also an interesting article by Orson Scott Card on openings where he tries four openings
––and they are necessary to his process of getting to one that works–– on his way to writing Bean.

http://www.hatrack.com/writingclass/les ... 0-29.shtml

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Re: Openings

Post by Fenris » December 18th, 2010, 2:52 pm

bcomet wrote:Here's also an interesting article by Orson Scott Card on openings where he tries four openings
––and they are necessary to his process of getting to one that works–– on his way to writing Bean.

http://www.hatrack.com/writingclass/les ... 0-29.shtml
There's a new bookmark on my browser. Thanks, bcomet.
Hi, my name's Fenris. I'm a thousand-year-old monster who's broken free to destroy the world. Your kids will love me!

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Watcher55
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Re: Openings

Post by Watcher55 » December 18th, 2010, 10:43 pm

bcomet wrote:Here's also an interesting article by Orson Scott Card on openings where he tries four openings
––and they are necessary to his process of getting to one that works–– on his way to writing Bean.

http://www.hatrack.com/writingclass/les ... 0-29.shtml
I don't know if y'all read ENDERS GAME but of the hundreds of books I read on watch in the Army, it's one of the few I remember well. I'm looking forward to BEAN.

This article is brilliant. If you haven't already, I'd advise you to give it a look.

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sarahdee
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Re: Openings

Post by sarahdee » December 18th, 2010, 11:22 pm

My current WIP starts with a newspaper article.

Originally it went straight into a scene (semi-action) but I felt the 'atmosphere' needed to be set and this fake article gives insight into the world it is set in (a not so distant future). I also tried describing the world in the first few chapters but it seemed very contrived and this article makes the point clearer and (I think) better.

I'm sure when I'm finished my beta readers will shout 'hell no'

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Re: Openings

Post by Mike R » December 20th, 2010, 9:28 pm

My first novel opens with the title character in a flight/fight for his life.

My second opens with the title character hiding out and trying to pull herself together after murdering her sister.

Of the two, I prefer action.

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Re: Openings

Post by Guardian » December 21st, 2010, 9:42 am

My first novel opens with the storyteller who is going to tell the life of the MC.

My second WIP opens with a secondary character, who is a key and her life is connecting to the MC in the first part of the story.

My third WIP opens with the main character as he opens an envelope.
Last edited by Guardian on December 21st, 2010, 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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