Monday, August 15, 2011

Opening Strong

The next in our Bell series, opening strong. That is opening strong, not strong opening. Anyway, Bell gives a list of what to shoot for in a strong opening. A strong opening should have:

 A hook!
 Establishment of a bond between reader and lead!
 A smidgeon about the world or setting!
 The general tone of the novel set!
 Something to pull the reader toward the middle of the story!
 Introduction of the opposition!
 No egregious use of exclamation points!

 These are the elements crucial to a Strong Opening!

 We are all pretty much taught in our writing to have a great hook. People won't stick with a slow moving book especially if it starts boring, so grab'em and don't let go. Make your first first line intriguing. 

She didn’t struggle; in fact she appeared to be unconscious. The first time Theo saw Ng a sticky wet trail of blood ran from her forehead to chin and dripped one drop on the dusty wood underfoot. 

That's the opening line in me book, intriguing? I'm not sure. 

He mentions avoiding descriptions but also states that they can be used, as long as they serve to move things along. Speed, or movement seems to be a key here. 

He mentions a few different kinds of hooks:

Action, pitching your reader in to the middle of an action sequence so they are immediately given conflict.
Raw Emotion, characters introduced with deep emotion, a death, loneliness, deep love.
Look-Back Hook, look back in time to something relating to the story. Sounds a bit dry but he uses two Stephen King examples and although his writing has certainly declined, he used to be a master.
Attitude, give your lead a hard edge, or a wity was with words and slam it home.

Prologues: Using prologues is popular, but as with all things they have to draw the reader in. Something relative that grabs the reader. This can involve the lead or not. If the lead is not introduced then make sure the prologue ties to them and the first chapter in someway links back to the prologue. Another thing, keep it short.
 The very first novel I ever attempted had a single spaced prologue that was 74 pages long. The Prologue. Of course my reading group shrieked like stuck pigs when faced with it. I trimmed it down to a page and a half by the next week.

So, that's it for a bit. You may quit, if you wish.

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