Thursday, April 27, 2017

Beginnings That Pull You In


The quote from Jack London is just another way of telling writers to open with a bang to hook your reader. Once hooked, we need to reel our readers in a little at a time with surprises or big happenings along the way. 

We've all read stories, or books. that spend the entire first chapter describing a lovely day. Does it make you want to go on reading? Sometimes, I do want to keep reading to see if anything ever does happen? My mind is saying Get on with it. as I turn the pages. When an opening chapter, or few paragraphs in a short story, are not of real interest, I find myself scanning until I find something that makes me slow down and pay attention. 

Start with an accident, or a crime or a natural disaster and the reader has questions in mind that can only be answered by reading farther. Start with a fight, a flood, a fire or a roller coaster ride gone bad and your reader will turn pages to see where this is going. 

When a writer opens with a 'wreckage' as stated by London, he/she is promising the reader that there will be more grab me and keep me chapters as the book (or paragraphs in a short story) progresses. Don't start with something fascinating and gripping, then slack off into the mundane. You need to deliver what you've promised the reader in your opening. 

Nancy Kress, science fiction writer, wrote a book for writers titled Beginnings, Middles, and Ends. Each of these three sections of your story, or book, have great importance. You might try checking out her ideas on beginnings to see if she agrees with Jack London. This is not a new book but is still on Amazon and very likely in your local library. It's worth a look. I may check it out of my library and read it again. A second read of what I consider a good resource never hurts.

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