Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to write the Beginning of a Novel

So, I have received quite a lot of feedback and reviews on my book, and though some of these reviews have positive things to say, so many of them list things I need to improve upon. That being said, I have decided to go back and revise the first several chapters of my book and edit the entire thing again. This is both exciting and frustrating at the same time. What’s even more frustrating is figuring out HOW to write it better.
How do you make the beginning of your book great? It cant be mediocre, it cant be just OK, it needs to be great. It needs to capture the readers attention right off the bat, and make them want more! So… how do you do that?
After reading a lot of information on the subject, this is what Ive found out.
1.       The most important thing is the first sentence!!
a.       The first sentence could introduce a character.
Example: “I am an invisible man.” - Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952) The reader automatically starts thinking about this. Invisible? How can someone be invisible? What would happen if someone were invisible? I MUST know how/why/who this could happen to! It explains at the very beginning, who this story is about and makes you want to know more.

b.      The first sentence could introduce the feeling or tone of the novel.  Example: “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925) This makes the reader wonder several things. First, what is this advice that so important to ponder for an entire life? Who is this person doing the pondering, this older and less vulnerable person? It makes you understand the narrator has experienced things in his life, and it makes the reader wonder what!
c.       Or you can just go for the shock and awe effect.
Example: “This is what happened.” - Stephen King, The Mist This immediately begs the question, WHAT has happened? And makes the reader instantly want to know more, who did it happen to, how did it happen and why?
  1. Ground the reader in the setting. You should explain somewhere in the first chapter, maybe even the first page, the WHERE and WHEN everything is taking place. You should be pretty specific when explaining the setting.
    1. Example: if it’s 1755 or 2025, these are VERY different times, which give the reader a sense of whats going on in the world, and the book.
    2. And, if you say it’s the middle of the summer in Mexico, as opposed to the middle of the winter in Canada, you will give the reader a better sense of where you are and how things would feel.
  2. Really introduce a character. As mentioned earlier, introducing the character in the first chapter is crucial, and not just the name. The reader should immediately have some connection or be able to relate in some way to the character.
    1. Example: “The visitor sits beside the bed and Ripley finally notices him. He is thirtyish and handsome, in a suit that looks executive or legal, the tie loosened with studied casualness. A smile referred to as ‘winning.’
      MAN- “Nice room. I’m Burke. Carter Burke. I work for the company, but other than that I’m an okay guy. Glad to see you’re feeling better.” James Cameron- Script for Aliens.  In just thouse few sentences, we already know the characters age, he is handsome, he is a professional, though he may not like working for the company he works for. And he seems friendly enough. So many things about this character, in such a short amount of time.
Hopefully this bit of advice will help you in some way! Now I just have to take my own advice and make my opening better!

4 comments:

  1. Dont stress too much, it will be fab.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not stressing. These things take time and I know that. :)

      Delete
  2. Good luck!! :) Can't wait to see your book on the shelves of a book store one day! I know it will happen for you!

    ReplyDelete

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