Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Opening Lines

A couple of years ago I read a lot of agent blogs and they all said the same thing -- You need to have a great opening line, a fabulous "hook" to draw the reader in. Sounds good in theory, but I was never one to practice it. My stories start at the beginning (if that makes sense). I don't want to drop three paragraphs or chapters for that matter just because an agent tells me to. I mean, just because you have a great opening line doesn't necessarily mean that the rest of the book won't suck. Believe me, I've seen this happen.

Standing in a bookstore, you open the novel, read the first page or three, plunk down $15- for something you think is going to be fabulous and once you get to the end, if you even GET to the end, you find out the $15- was wasted.

In my opinion, I'd rather start the book off slowly and allow the reader to get the WHOLE idea of what is GOING to happen rather than just dumping them right into the mix and having them say, "What the f**k is going on?"

For example, when I started showing REMEMBERING YOU around, everyone told me to dump the first two pages and open when Genna first sees Tony at the diner. Then I could fill in all the backstory later. Uh, no. That's not where the story began. It began with her driving up interstate 95 and thinking how surprised Uncle Sal would be when he saw her. It began with her remembering what it was like to be home and why she left in the first place. It began with her nervousness and anxiety. I mean, ten years is a long time to be gone. And then, BLAM, there's Tony. It's kind of like an "Oh shit" moment. (Not an "Ah Ha" moment.) As in "Oh shit, what is Genna going to do now?" I like to REACH the tension instead of just starting out with it.

Some people call that backstory. Others call it info dumping. I call it the beginning.

As a reader, no one would care about Genna and Tony and why the meeting was so significant if they didn't know she hadn't been home for ten years or why. And that's what the first two pages were all about.

However, that being said, I've had an opening line roaming around in my head for a story I want to write. It's a great opening line but I'm not going to share it with you because God only knows who actually reads this blog and I've already had some stuff stolen so I don't want to lose this to some .99 plagiarist gang-banger.

It's a GREAT opening line. It drops you right into the story. It's an "Oh shit" moment if ever there was one. My problem is, I don't know where it goes from there. I mean, how can you follow something like that? I could write the whole story and it could suck. Apart from the opening line, there may not be anything worth reading. And I don't need any more 2 star reviews cluttering up my book. I've got enough of those.

So, for anyone reading this, what's your opinion? Would you rather get dropped in to the action, or would you rather be led to it?


The Happy Whisk said...

This blog is set up nice too. I like the water in the back.

If you come back to blogging again, please stop in and let me know.

Cheers and boogie boogie.

Liza said...

All I can tell you is the first line of mine that you have read, came to me one night in that middle point between sleeping and waking. I roused myself and wrote it down thinking...there's a story here. I waited six months, and the story came. I do like being dropped into the action and reading along and trying to guess why certain things are happening as the story is revealed to me.