In The Beginning

I watched a movie last week about four guys who build a machine that allows them to travel through time. I ended up turning it off because the story was taking too long to happen.  I wanted to see the guys travel through time, not watch them build the machine step by step.

Anyway, the movie got me thinking about story beginnings and how writers are bombarded with messages to start their stories with a hook or to open with a bang.  We’re told we only have a few moments or a couple of sentences to grab the reader’s attention or else.

But what about stories that can’t open with a BANG?  Stories that need a bit of set up before the action/conflict starts?

I struggle with openings because I like to set the stage.  Ease into the story.  I have a hard time starting a story in the midst of some big event or as Jennifer Crusie said in an RWA lecture, beginning where the trouble begins.  I have to repeat her advice over and over again while writing opening scenes.  It helps me stay focused.

So do you struggle with writing opening scenes?  And for you hooking pros, got any advice?

As a writer, how do you feel about the emphasis on hooking the reader?  Do you feel any sort of added pressure?

As a reader, do you expect to be hooked right away by a story?



Filed under Kimberly, writing

4 responses to “In The Beginning

  1. talesfromthecrit

    That’s how I felt about Congo. Which I thought should have actually been named How I Got to the Congo. The entire freaking two thirds of the movie is their process of getting to the Congo. By the time they got there I didn’t give a crap about the giant evil monkeys. I don’t even remember exactly what happened. Yeah, there’s some impact.

    I like to start slow too, I’m the same way. But if you like to ease into a story have a sense for where the boundaries lay. Or start writing lit fic where it doesn’t matter how long to take to get to the point or, indeed, if you ever get to the point.


  2. Charlotte McClain

    When I read I want to start with trouble or at least with trouble on the horizon.

    When I write, I have trouble with this. I’m still haunted by the novel I wrote that opened with three pages of the heroine doing her taxes. Three pages. Taxes. If she’d been watching paint dry while waiting for the hero to show up it would have been more interesting.

  3. Neith

    This is how I deal with this (because I like to set things up, too). I write it the way I feel it – set up and all. Then in the very first edit, I crop the beginning to where it needs to be, then work that backstory and set up into the first set of revisions/edits. It’s annoying in that if I could learn where to start in the first place my editing process would be shorter and smoother, but it works for me.

    I like backstory. I love world building and all the little details that create a rich setting. I like it when I read, but there’s a limit to how much of that you can stomach before you want some story DARN IT.

    Anyway, that’s where I stand. lol


  4. Inez Kelley

    There is nothing as satisfying as taking a huge old info dump but, ultimately, it stinks. Learned that one the hard way.

    I loved to be hooked from line one which is not as easy as it sounds.

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