|Photo credit: Nomadic Lass on Flickr|
So how do you ensure that you’ve written an epically amazing opening? Fear not, my lovely readers, for the formula to a brilliant opening is here.
How to Write the Most Incredible Opening in the History of Incredible Openings*:
- Dialogue in the void. Before a single line of description, before any characters are introduced, there must be super stupendously thrilling (or hysterical, or tragic, or snarky, or thought-provoking, or all of the above) dialogue. Forget dialogue tags and action beats—give us the good stuff and skip straight to voices before we know who anyone is, or who is speaking, or even where they are.
- Start with an entirely irrelevant prologue. This is where your void dialogue should be—in the epic prologue with elves, and magic spells, and dragons, and that hovercraft bombing everything with super cinematic explosions, and an epically amazing ninja fight, and don’t forget the car chase with really expensive, flashy cars. Oh, you’re writing a YA Contemporary? Use the awesomesmash prologue anyway—it’ll only add to your book’s insane level of genius.
- Moral of the story narration. This should be at the end of the irrelevant prologue. After all, no one is going to want to read your book if they don’t know what valuable life-lessons they’re going to learn. Honestly.
- Beautiful description. If you don’t have pages upon pages of uninterrupted beautiful literary-styled description, you fail by default.
- Introduce no less than fifteen characters…then kill them all off. You know, a la The Iliad.
- Delve into every character’s detailed backstory. Before you kill them off, or as a eulogy afterwards, tell us every detail about their lives—from their favorite color to their very first memory, and that time their cat Colonel McMeowsers brought them that dead pigeon. This is the only way to make them feel real.
- But don’t mention your protagonist until page ten. Or preferably later. You have a lot of ground to cover before you even begin to tell us who the story is about.
- When you do get to your protagonist, start at the beginning of their average day. I mean, how he brushes his teeth (clockwise or counterclockwise circles? Up and down? SIDE TO SIDE?), and what kind of brush he uses to brush his hair, and what his favorite cereal is is totally fascinating stuff.
- Tell everything (and don’t show anything). Jimmy is angry when he hits his alarm clock. He doesn’t know why he’s angry. Maybe it’s because the bristles on his tooth brush are too hard, or maybe it’s because his mother left three days after his second birthday and that ridiculous chihuahua bit his pinky finger when he was four. He stares into the mirror while brushing in counterclockwise circles and stares into his gorgeous green eyes. Coincidentally, green happens to be his favorite color. He’s very attractive, but he doesn’t really think so. Some girls say his wavy dark locks framing his face make him look handsome, but they just remind him of his mother.
Jimmy loves Cap’n Crunch cereal.
- Author foreshadowing. Because who doesn’t love the disembodied voice telling us what’s going to happen? For example:
But what Jimmy didn’t know was that this would be the best day of his life, and also the day he died. All because of that Cap’n Crunch.
*This is another sarcastic post! I beg you not to take these points seriously and please don’t use any of these suggestions. Please.
What so-called “tips” would you add to the list?
Do you have trouble writing openings? Here's a fun post from writer @Ava_Jae on ten ways (not) to open your book. (Click to tweet)
Getting your MS's opening right is very important, so writer @Ava_Jae shares 10 ways (not) to write a great opening. (Click to tweet)