Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Grab Your Rearders

Where do I begin?

If you were to ask any author this question, I am sure the answer would vary somewhat. Some love looking at a blank page and get excited to fill it, while others would much rather see the page filled and get more excited about doing rewrites, revising, or touching up what is already written.

But to decide how to start your story?? Well, there are several things to consider and that is really only up to the individual writing the story.

To Prologue or not to Prologue: That is the question:

Yes or No? I am not sure there is a cut and dry answer. (Please, everyone feel free to add advice here) When deciding whether or not to begin with a prologue, you need to ask yourself whether a prologue is really needed or not...

I have heard it said that a prologue is only needed when you have a weak first chapter. OUCH! I had a prologue in my very first book.

I had always thought that a prologue helps to tell a back story. Since then, I have learned that this could be done throughout the story and that many people don’t even read the prologue. However, I always do. I feel I am missing part of the story if I don’t. So my answer to that question is a definitely sometimes. Ask yourself, Is it really needed? As an author, trust your instincts. If you need it, I’d keep it really short.

First Things First:The Thriller:

“Tuesday was a fine California day, full of sun-shine and promise, until Harry Lyon had to shoot someone at lunch.” Dragon Tears, Dean Koontz

The Romantic Comedy:

“Ok.. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. It’s only a VISA bill. It’s a piece of paper; a few numbers. I mean, just how scary can a few numbers be?” Confessions of a Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsella

The Fantasy:

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable part of the Galaxy lies a small unrewarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

The Teen Dream:

“It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache.” Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson

(I am not aware of who did the research for the handout for this class as I personally have not read any of these books nor did I attend this conference class-- but I thank the person who was willing to give of their time to help us with this information.)

These are just a few examples of some openings to books that capture the readers attention. You’ll note that you can identify the “voice” or the tone that sets the story or the mood the author is trying to create right from the beginning. You can even identify conflict from the opening line.

The beginning of a book compels the reader to want to read on, it gives them a reason to turn the page. This is where you can hook your reader and even start to establish a bond between the reader and the characters of your book.

Of course a strong beginning is nothing if you don’t keep your story strong throughout… :)

But the first step is to jump in and grab your readers!

1 comment:

Stephanie Black said...

Great post, Jeri! If we don't grab our readers in the beginning, they'll never get to the end!