by Renea Guenther @ReneaGuenther
Your opening scene is the deciding factor in whether people read your book or not.
If it doesn’t capture your reader’s attention in the first couple pages, more than likely, they’ll put your book down and go find another.
With the speed of today’s world, people no longer have the time or patience to wade through a slow beginning. No matter how engaging the rest of the book is.
The goal is to keep the reader turning the page.
The easiest way to do this is to create interest, a puzzle or something interesting to keep them reading.
There are three different hooks writers use to achieve this:
You’ve heard this a million times: start with the action.
But there’s a reason for this. It is the most effective and proven method used to gain readers to date.
And until someone finds a better way to start a book, you’re going to keep hearing it.
But that doesn’t mean every book should start in the middle of a battle with life and death consequences.
If everybody did that, reading would quickly become monotonous and boring.
And I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a life without reading.
Action just means the reader needs to see the protagonist facing a conflict with consequences for failure and a goal for getting out of it.
Preferably in their normal lives and tied to the plot in some way.
If a fight works best for your book, that’s fine. But there are a variety of ways to create conflict without every book starting the same way.
You’re not locked into anything.
As tempting as it may be to paint a beautiful picture of your world, starting with more than a paragraph or two of description will soon drag down the story as your readers quickly become bored.
However, starting with setting can be a highly effective opening if used correctly.
The setting should play an active role in the introduction of your protagonist and their life.
Whether you choose to use it as the cause of the conflict or as a tool used by the protagonist or the opposing side to gain the upper hand is up to you.
Everything you write should serve a purpose, especially in the opening scene.
Endless description does not serve any purpose other than to bog down the story, no matter how pretty it might be.
A Problem to be Solved
The last way to open a scene is to use a problem in your protagonist’s world or everyday life to create conflict.
It does not have to connect to the core conflict, but it does have to point them in the right direction.
If it doesn’t do either, cut it.
It holds no purpose and does nothing but weigh the story down.
No matter which opening you choose, it should push the story forward in some way.
Every scene should have your protagonist facing some sort of conflict with consequences for the choices they make and a goal they strive to reach.
If you can grab your reader’s attention and keep them interested all the way to the end, you might just find yourself with a fan willing to buy your next book.
Isn’t that what we all strive for?
What kind of opening grabs your readers’ attention?