Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sometimes When We Touch...

Did that get your attention? When you write you want an opening line that will grab your reader's attention and get them to read your story.

In John Dunham's Diary, my opening line is "Oh my God, Oh my God… I remember everything!"

I think it's an attention grabber, because the reader automatically wants to know what happens. At least I would want to know. It's not always easy knowing where to begin, but occassionally a line comes along and well you just know that this should begin your novel.

In Linda Fairstein's Hell Gate, the opening line is "How many bodies?"

Christine Feehan's Water Bound begins "Flames raced up the walls to spread across the ceiling."

So, where do you begin to write the perfect opening? I personally believe you should begin whereever the story wants to begin, when writing the first draft. You can always choose where you want to begin or re-work that first line is subsequent edits/re-writes. Though the most important thing is getting you story down.

Your beginning may not be the first page, you envisioned. It may actually be later on. Always strive for the attention grabber: In media res (in the middle of the action), a catchy line or some vital piece of information. Anything that will make the reader want to continue on with the story.

This is not always easy to do. The author often wants to give background information. I am often guilty of this and that is not a bad way to begin, though you might want to choose a more catchy line. For instance in a new short story I am working on I began, Mom hired a crew to lay new tile in our kitchen. One of the men caught my eye instantly. I didn’t stand a chance with his muscular body and softly curling hair. He looked to be no more than my age of eighteen. It was love at first sight, or so I told myself that’s what the fast heartbeat and the fluttering in my stomach meant. And Chris didn’t even notice I was alive.

When I should have began, "I know what you are." See the difference? I can always work in the other stuff in later, but "I know what you are." sounds so much more mysterious.

1 comment:

Diandra said...

That's a good point. I sometimes try to stretch... get the reader's attention, make them curious, and at the same time provide the tiniestest glimpse of backstory or spoiler... to make them even more curious. Like, "When Sarah left the office she didn't know she was about to be hit by a car." Or, "We all knew it had to end like this." Or... well, I can't come up with anything better right now, sorry. ^^

(I love the opening line of "The Graveyard Book", and it totally proves your point.)