As I am about to begin re-editing my novel from NaNoWriMo, I decided to do some digging into what makes for compelling novel introductions. As many know but don’t really understand, novels are not movies, television or video games. But what are the relevant differences?
That the way you grab a reader is different enough that careful consideration needs to be placed on the opening (I would go so far as to say the opening of every chapter if at all possible). NaNoWriMo stresses story movement and speed writing over precise writing. These 10 tips were very helpful in channeling my thinking towards the small and considered.
I was recently inspired after reading this ARTICLE: 10 Ways to Start Your Story Better | WritersDigest.com.
As I read through these items, I wondered how many books I’ve read over the past 10-20 years where these tips were actually relevant. While they sound really good in theory I found that I rarely ever needed a first sentence , paragraph, or chapter to determine whether I was going to like a book. The amount of time and energy I have to read is dramatically less than when I was younger and I have found that I have to be far more discerning in what I read … or watch, listen or play.
The need to grab someone with the first sentence feels a bit antiquated and rarely a reason (for me) to keep reading or put down a book. I am less interested in an author who has perfect the art of pulling me in instantly and am more interested who can keep good story telling and pacing consistently. A book/movie/tv/game might take a few hours of investment – and that is ok by me as a media consumer. As I tend to intake media that is usually part of a larger story I don’t need the intro to grab me instantly (perhaps the way a movie has to). If the book is 1,000 pages long, I’m not going to give up after a chapter and I am certainly not going to go into it not knowing anything about it.
What this also means is that I rarely ever pick up a book or author that I know nothing about. I am willing to read new authors (not as many as I would like) but I don’t walk through the bookstore like I did when I was a kid, find a compelling cover, and just go with a gut based upon a description and amazing artwork. I read reviews/feedback on Amazon, I follow multiple genre specific websites and twitters that do a great job of screening the bad stuff out of the way and focusing me towards great stuff. What I invest my time in is heavily vetted so I am willing to give it more time than a casual reader might.
As demonstrated by my 2 pinterest boards – I have a LOT left to read (and more keeps getting added each week!)
Unread Books Owned – http://pinterest.com/nightpearl/unread-books-owned/
Unread Books Unowned – http://pinterest.com/nightpearl/unread-books-unowned/
What does all this mean? It means I am less interested in the single opening sentance/paragraph/chapter than this article makes it seem like it should be. It got me wondering if there really are better ways to start a story that aren’t just based upon the Hollywood model either (I’m currently reading My Story Can Beat Up Your Story! which talks about the formula for perfect Hollywood films).
Which lead me to wonder if there are books that look to break the mold in pacing, storytelling, format, or something else to create experiences that truly are different.There are 2 books taht come to mind and I suggest you give them a try.
Do you have any to recommend?