You were meant to be here... from the beginning?
My brain is still a little on the fritz from Readercon, which was great but also a lot for a pandemic-reinforced introvert such as myself. However, I’m hoping that a little rest will lead to clarity and productiveness (one often hopes such things) and in the meantime I thought I’d come chat with you about the fine art and craft (but not science) of opening a story in a way that engages the reader.
There’s a lot of bad and categorical advice out there about what a good story opening looks like, and because it’s a topic that recently came up in a couple of writer spaces I hang around in this seemed like a good time to tackle it. (We’re always looking for grist for the mill, after all.
I won’t be offering much in the way of categorical advice, but I have got a few tricks that have worked for me over the years. And a few things that often don’t work for reasons I can explain.
What it boils down to, though, is that your first task as a writer is to get the reader intrigued and invested in your story. I feel like the question of how this works is also of interest to readers, because I am the sort of person who thinks Analysis is Fun.
People doling out writing advice often talk about “The hook,” which is the bit you use to get the reader to that intrigued and invested space, so they cart the book to checkout or click “buy now” and you get their beer money. So it can become your beer money.
Or your rent money, as the case may be.
That—getting their beer money—is the most important single task the opening performs.
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