10 Thoughts on Openings

Cross-posted.

Ten thoughts on story/novel openings:
1-Your first job is to draw the reader in.
2-Having drawn her in, keep her there till the story is done.
3-You might find that working on the first line is easiest when you’ve finished the whole story.
4-The opening should set expectations which, by the end of the story, will be met in full.
5-It’s probably best to avoid being boring here.
6-Concrete is probably better than abstract. In other words, who, where, what, why and when, rather than thoughts about the philosophical meaning of grout fungus in the biosphere.
7-The opening and the ending are inextricably linked to each other. These may be the most important parts of the story, so spend a lot of time and effort on both of them.
8-Beware of writerly advice that says “always” or “never” or “must” with respect to openings. Screw that. But *be mindful of what you are screwing*.
9-The opening, above all else, INTRODUCES. It’s not the best place for backstory or side-quests. Introduce characters, world and situation.
10-For my money, the best way to learn about openings is to take books off your shelf (or from the library shelves) and close-read the openings of the narratives that work for you.

Reading: The Making of Mr. Gray’s Anatomy by Ruth Richardson

Listening to: The Lady of Rage, Afro Puffs

 

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