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- Hi everyone.
For this week's video we're gonna be talking all about
opening pages.
I don't know about you
but that very first chapter in the novel
is always the most difficult to write.
I guess I just feel like there's a lot of pressure
to make it perfect and it generally takes me
forever to finally get a beginning together
that I really feel like I can work with.
I mean let's face it.
That first chapter and specifically those first few pages
are hella important.
And we as writers have to be able to deliver a solid
and engaging opening.
It's a lot of pressure.
But luckily I've picked up a few and tricks along the way
that I'm gonna be sharing with you.
So today I'm gonna be giving you five tips
on how to write a solid opening for your novel.
To start with let's talk a little bit about
why that first chapter and specifically those
first few pages are so important.
Picture this.
A reader walks into a bookstore and they pick up a book
that piques their interest.
What do they do?
They open it up to the first page and they start reading.
If those opening pages don't grab their attention
and keep it,
guess what happens?
They put the book down and they choose something else.
This is a very sad thing to happen to a writer
and their book.
And to be honest one of the biggest problems
that we writers have is starting our stories off
in the wrong place.
And as a result our beginnings are often lacking.
So how do we fix this?
Well onto the tips.
Tip number one.
Avoid info dumping with back story.
Here's the thing guys.
Readers do not need pages and pages of backstory.
I know you feel like they do but
they really don't.
Readers need to be sucked into the momentum of the story immediately.
And talking about the past just isn't going to cut it.
A lot of writers feel like they have to include
all of this backstory in order for their readers
to understand or to get it.
But guys.
That's kind of insulting to the readers.
They're smarter than you're giving them credit for.
What you need to give them is only what they need
to understand the scene at hand.
And the one that's going to follow.
That means little to no backstory.
Say it with me.
Little to no backstory.
Do not info dump at the beginning of your book.
Trust me.
And let's talk about prologues for a second.
I could do a whole vlog about those later
which I might but
let's talk about 'em real quick.
I do believe there is a time and a place for a prologue.
A well executed prologue.
There is.
But a lot of writers use them as a way to veil backstory.
To sneak it in if you will.
Please don't do this.
Just trust me.
Don't do this.
Moral of the story.
Backstory not a great way to start your novel.
Tip number two.
Avoid starting with a character's thoughts.
Just like the reader doesn't need a crap ton of backstory,
they also don't need 5 to 10 pages at the beginning of
the book where the main character sits around
and ponders life or marinates on his or her thoughts.
This is a form of telling and telling via exposition
just isn't as impactful as showing.
The job of the writer if you will
is to evoke an emotional response from the reader.
To create that pathway towards a connection
between the main character and the reader.
You're never gonna be able to establish that
with telling.
It's just not gonna happen.
Think about it like this.
Your main character is getting ready to embark on a journey.
A journey that is going to change their life forever.
The reader needs to experience the beginning of
that journey.
To live through that opening scene right along with
the character.
Otherwise they're never going to buy into it.
So really try to avoid having an opening
that starts with the character thinking
about the past,
about the present,
about their current situation,
telling is just not what you need to do to create
that connection.
Readers don't wanna be told what the character
is experiencing or feeling.
They want to be shown.
Readers want to experience things for themselves.
Tip number three.
Avoid cliched openings.
By definition a cliche is something that is overused
or lacks original thought.
So when you're writing the beginning of your book
you wanna make sure that you're starting with an opening
that isn't the same as the opening of a million other books.
A reader doesn't wanna read the same thing over and over
Something that they've seen before.
They wanna be engaged.
So here are some things you might wanna think about
Number one.
A character waking up.
Don't do this.
Having the character being shaken awake.
Having the character waking up after a dream sequence
or starting with a dream sequence.
Guys I know that dreams are a favorite way of starting
a story.
But trust me.
Don't do it.
It's cliched,
it's been done.
So take that dream sequence and put it somewhere else
cause it's not a great way to start the story.
You want to avoid things like
the sounds of the birds chirping
or a lengthy description of the sun is shining
through the trees and into the open window.
Things like that.
Are you getting the idea?
You want your opening to be able to stand on its own
two feet.
Not on the two feet of a million other books.
Number four.
Handle dialogue with care.
Starting a book with dialogue is one of the moves
that either really, really works or
really, really doesn't work.
Let me explain.
If there's too little dialogue in those opening pages
then that's a really good indicator that you've got
way too much narrative
and too much narrative means that there's
probably a whole lot of telling versus showing happening
or that you've info dumped a lot of backstory.
On the other hand however,
having too much dialogue in those opening pages
can be kind of iffy as well.
When the reader opens the book,
they know literally nothing about the main characters.
They haven't established that emotional connection yet.
They don't care about them.
So if they start the story in the middle of a conversation
without any kind of context,
it can be a little off-putting.
So you really have to be careful with dialogue
and try to find that balance between narrative and dialogue.
It can get a little crazy so handle dialogue with care
for sure.
And guys those first opening lines are so, so, so important.
It's the very first thing that a reader reads.
So you wanna make sure that it grabs their attention,
that it hooks them,
that it takes them by the hand and doesn't let them go.
So be careful with dialogue.
And lastly number five.
Start with the inciting incident.
So now that we've gotten rid of backstory
and thinking and cliched openings,
how exactly do we start our novel?
Well we start with the inciting incident.
The inciting incident is something that happens
that launches the main character out of their everyday life
and onto the journey of the story.
Usually the inciting incident introduces some sort of
surface level conflict but then it also kind of sets
the stage for the overarching overall conflict
of the story.
So for example,
in Hunger Games when Prim's name is called in the reaping
it completely changes Katniss Everdeen's life.
She has to decide.
Does she let her sister go to the Hunger Games and die
or does she take her place and possibly lose her own life?
So that's the surface level problem
that that inciting incident creates.
But as we all know it also sets the stage for what's going
to come later on in the story when Katniss becomes the
Mocking Jay and has to challenge the Capitol.
Your opening pages,
that inciting incident needs to lay the seeds
for what's going to come later on in the book.
So that the reader can see from the very beginning
kind of the foundation of that overarching conflict.
If your pages don't do that,
then you run the risk of losing readers.
Remember they want to be sucked into the momentum
of the story immediately and starting with the
inciting incident is exactly the way you wanna go about
doing that.
All right you guys.
So those are my five tips for how to create
a really strong opening for your novel.
How to start things off with a bang.
I really hope these tips were helpful
and hopefully now you understand that you gotta dump
those cliches,
get rid of the backstory and all of the thinking,
and really focus on engaging the reader.
It's all about creating an opening that
grabs the reader by the hand
and never lets them go.
If you guys have any questions for me about this
or anything else writing related
you can leave me a comment below
or you can tweet me at underscore Kim Chance.
If you're new to my channel hello.
It is so lovely to meet you.
I hope you'll consider subscribing on your way out.
I post weekly writing videos on Saturdays.
As for the rest of you,
thank you so much for coming back and seeing me today.
I love spending my Saturdays with you.
I hope you guys are all having a fantastic day
full of productivity and words
and writing-ness.
And all that good stuff.
And I'll see you guys next week.
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How to Write a Strong Opening for your Novel

122 Folder Collection
Cathy ♥ published on November 27, 2018    Cathy ♥ translated    Evangeline reviewed
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