|In the beginning...
||[Mar. 12th, 2013|09:29 pm]
The recent offer by Norwescon to have a professional team of editors and writers read the first page of your novel got me thinking of the importance of that opening. A good first sentence can make the difference between someone wanting to read more, or putting the book back on the shelf and continuing to browse. Or, in the modern era, hitting either the "purchase" or "next" button on their device.
I had a couple of different ideas for openings. So, I'm calling for a vote.
Here's one option:
Sandra just wanted to sleep. Three days on the new job, and she'd already been late twice. Not very late, but still. If she wanted to keep this one, she'd have to start getting up earlier in the morning. And if she wanted to get up earlier, she'd have to get to sleep.
After laying in bed for half an hour or more, she was finally starting to drift off. And then she heard a noise. It came from downstairs, and she knew immediately it wouldn't be her roommate. Linda would never be that quiet. But a door had definitely opened.
Looking back in the years and decades following, most people would blame the software mogul who pulled so many strings to keep the secret. Some would place blame instead on the police detective and the reporter who struggled to hard to expose it. The solution had been brewing for a long time, though. And Toni was really the catalyst. Having no agenda herself, and no burning desire beyond finding a job and a place to live, none of it would have happened without her.
But over decades, thoughts of the tragedy fell by the wayside for all but obsessives and historians. And if history is to be any guide, within a generation there'd be few alive at all who remember, and even fewer who believe it.
They're completely different in tone, but serve to open the same story. What do you think? Which of these would make you want to keep reading?
A. The first one. The second's a bit over the top. You're neither Guy Gavriel Kay nor H.P. Lovecraft. Don't try.
B. The second one. The first just seems too pedestrian for what is in essence a fantasy novel.
C. Neither really does it for me. Keep trying, it's in there somewhere.
D. If that's the best you've got so far, give up before it's too late.
E. Other. (What?)
Cast your votes in the comments below!
The second. I'd probably close the book and put it back on the shelf with option one. Option two hints at interesting things to come. I'd probably kill the second paragraph.
I like the second one as well. I choose E. The second one jumps immediately into development of character that also has an element of humor to it, not over-the-top, but enough to keep it familiar, in a vein of clever while not taking itself too seriously. NOTHING reads more awfully than writing that takes itself too seriously in any direction. I don't mean seriousness of tone, but the parts where you can see the author is completely in love with him or herself.
Cool. Thanks, both of you, that's exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping for.
I think you're right about the second paragraph, too. Now that I think about it, it, or something very similar, would actually fit much better at the very end of the story - so it recaps some of the threads of the story rather than foreshadowing them.