Things to avoid. (As far as openings go.)

There are a lot of ways to open a story properly. On the other hand, there are even more ways to do so poorly. With this in mind, here is a short list. Maybe in a later post, I’ll leave list form. It’s just so effective. I don’t know why anyone uses anything but lists. In any case, don’t:

  1. START WHERE THE STORY STARTS – This should seem obvious, but the reader doesn’t want to jump into the story. You wouldn’t just jump on your prospective lover before dinner and wine, would you? Of course not. In this same fashion, stories. Don’t jump in. Let the story start when it will. Don’t force the plot to run rampant over your artistry. No one wants to read about characters they don’t know, in a place they haven’t been told about, doing something with no background. Just meander about until the story starts. If Melville can take dozens of pages talking about nothing in particular, so can you.
  2. OPEN WITH DIALOGUE – This is a mistake I’ve seen dozens of writers make. They have some person blathering on about something or other. Definitely avoid snappy dialogue. Anything you open the story with won’t land as well as something a character says later in the piece. If it’s just going to be ineffective, why do it? It’s not like meeting new people, or in this case characters, is something that anyone in the real world does.
  3. LEAD IN WITH ACTION – It’s just so garish, opening with something happening. It’s so in the reader’s face. Opening with an assassination in a political thriller? Ridiculous. Starting with a spat in romance? Clichéd. A sword fight in fantasy? Gaudy. [1] Leave all that for the climax.
  4. INTRODUCE YOUR WORLD OR CHARACTERS THROUGH ACTIONS AND DIALOGUE – Just don’t. Not at the beginning, not at the end. Always go with purple description of wherever your story is. Maybe there’s a forest? That’s novel.

These are just a few of the many ways to lose the reader. For ways to rope them in, see my previous post. [2]

[1] This one I’m kind of serious about. Frankly, most people have very little notion as to how sword fights work.
[2] If you’re reading this, bewildered at my claims, read my other post on this topic and all will be revealed.