Begin

4 Apr

Sometimes when I was little I’d whisper The Fourth to myself. I didn’t dare do it in daylight, but at night, when the cool fluorescents would dim and flicker with an oncoming acid storm, I’d murmur the word softly under my breath. Like my secret whispers could keep me safe from the tempest outside.

~Excerpt from EROS

 © Alexandra Sestito 2011-2012

Beginnings should raise questions. They should be a lot like the teaser on the inside cover. Throwing out a few facts, but withholding the juicy secrets that will keep readers flipping pages.

Grabbing reader’s attention means you have to raise a question/or questions from the very beginning lines of your book.

The above passage was taken from the first sentences of my novel EROS. We’ll use to exam how to set up a tantalizing beginning!

(I hate to use my own work as a “good” example, but it will cut it for our purposes.)

The important thing about this beginning is that it does three things:

  1. It throws out an unknown factor to the reader
  2. It introduces a bit of the “world” to the reader
  3. It tells us something about our MC

The first thing that I mentioned was that it introduces an “unknown” to the reader (while this isn’t always present in the first paragraph of some novels it’s always a bonus.) In the very first sentence we are introduced to a thing called “The Fourth” since we have no idea what this means we are instantly motivated to keep on reading just to figure out what “the fourth” is.

Second, it flaunts a little bit of the world we will be setting up. The second sentence mentions “fluorescent lights” this hints at a society that has modern technology. It also peeks our interest with the mention of “acid storms” raising the questions: What are these storms? How did they come about? Etc.

Finally we learn something about our MC. In the second line we read:

 I didn’t dare do it in daylight…

This hints at the fact that our MC maybe less than courageous. Or perhaps rebellious against something she is not supposed to do. We also read that:

… Like my secret whispers could keep me safe from the tempest outside.

This hints at the fact that the storms are something to fear or that our MC, is at least afraid of them.

Having key questions raised in the beginning of your novel is important to over all success. Most readers don’t have the patients to sit down and read through 7 pages of set up and descriptions. Keeping them guessing is the most important thing to do when writing up or editing your beginning paragraphs.

How about you guys? What do you think makes a good beginning?

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2 Responses to “Begin”

  1. juanvillagrana April 5, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    First of all: Your writing is genuinely AMAZING! It definitely got me hooked at the mention of “The Fourth” and the acids storms. And something about this snippet sets up a sort of…I don’t know…”refreshing” image in my mind. In my opinion, it’s beautiful.
    For the opening of STARSONG, I’m glad to say that I too started off with a line that immediately makes you want to see what happens next. I keep the situation kind of ambiguous, referring to certain things as ‘they’ rather than bring them out into the spotlight.
    I like to think that this creates an eerie, mysterious atmosphere. And when you get to the fierty end of the prologue, you wouldn’t find yourself all too disappointed. Well, if I do say so myself.
    This is a great post, btw. I’ll be sure to incorporate some of these tips into my opening.
    =)

    • nkeda14 April 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      O Gee Thanks *blushes* I try to keep things “fresh” as you say.

      Your opening sounds great I hope I get to read it at some point!

      Glad you liked the post 😀

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