The opening scene is, beyond a doubt, the most important scene in the entire book. If this scene is no good, your readers could be bored… Or worse! Ditch your book completely!!! *cue screams of writerly horror*
Don’t let this happen. Make sure your beginning is memorable. Grip your reader’s by the throat and drag them in so deep they’ll be forced to keep reading!
There are different ways to begin a story…
1.) An Action: Start the story running and speed up from there. Maybe open on a fight scene, or a chase scene. Get your readers engaged fast! They’ll be powerless to resist a really juicy action scene! (Just make sure this action opens setting the stage; it needs to be a part of who your character is before the story happens. If fighting is a daily occurrence for this character, then by all means open on a fight scene!)
2.) A Character: Open with your main character doing something they always do; something that is a big part of who they are. If they garden, open with them in their garden. If they are into exercise, maybe they are exercising. Something that really shows who they are as an individual. Check out my post on Three-Dimensional Characters HERE.
3.) A Setting: A place in the story. If the forest is a big part of the story and your character, open on the forest. If the character’s home is, open on the house.
4.) Dialogue: One of the most common ways to do this is for a character’s name to be called, introducing them immediately to the reader without being boring. You could also jump into the middle of a conversation between two characters. It’s a good way to reveal important story information without being too boring. Check out my post on dialogue HERE.
5.) A Thought: Opening with a character’s thoughts is a great way to get into who they are! Make sure this thought sums them up really well and is interesting to your reader.
6.) A Statement: "In the beginning, Marley was dead." A statement that begins the famous Christmas Carol story by Charles Dickens. This is sharp and to the point, dragging you into the story right away.
7.) World Building: Open sharing something important about the world your character lives in. Be that history that will be relevant to the story in the future, or something different the reader needs to know that will make for an easier time in the future. It’s best to keep this simple, though. If it’s too long, the reader might get bored. Say what you need to say and get to the action quick as you can. Check out my post on that HERE.
While there are ways to start a book, there are also ways NOT to begin it. Before I close, I’ll share with you the Bad Beginnings you probably shouldn’t use…
1.) Waking Up: Your character wakes up. And… Boring! Not only that, but it is a very cliche start. People usually don’t wake up and do interesting things. Unless it’s just somehow relevant to the plot, avoid this opening. It’s hard to get into a book that starts this way.
2.) Dreams: Unless you’re writing the next Inception, don’t do this. Opening with an epic dream and then having your character wake up violates the first point and it cheats the reader. Unless it is just really, really important for the story, try to avoid opening with a dream.
3.) Back Story: If you start with a really long backstory, chances are, your reader is going to be bored. They don’t care about your character yet! Show your readers who this character is first, then use their backstory to show them why.
Thanks for the read!