Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Importance of Opening Lines

Striped_Notepad_4710 (7)I usually don’t get stuck with book beginnings (endings are more of a problem for me), because I have a similar approach each time. This may not give me an award for originality, but it does seem to work.

I like to open with dialogue and start the book in the middle of some sort of change for my protagonist. The point where a normal, everyday, boring day turns into something different.

Now endings? They’re tougher for me. I usually write several of those and decide which one I like best. That would be easy to do with a beginning, too. It takes off some of the pressure when we realize we can change it.

If you get stuck at the beginning of your book, you could even skip it and write it last.

Opening lines I’m not crazy about

I’ll admit to being a pretty picky reader. I think this is because I have such a long list of books to read that I just move to the next title on the list if a book doesn’t grab me.

Although opening with setting is fine, I do want the setting to be an important part of the story if the book opens up with it.

Long descriptions on the first page usually make me start skimming.

Too many character names at the very beginning of a book can make me confused, too.

Book openings usually have several goals:

Introducing the protagonist…just getting them onstage so the reader knows whom the story is about.

Posing a question, introducing some conflict, or generally hinting the plot’s direction.

Showing the writer’s voice.

Interesting opening lines

Looking for some examples of some enticing opening lines? Check out this article from Stylist: The best 100 opening lines from books.”

As a reader, what kinds of book beginning get you hooked? As a writer, are opening lines tough for you?