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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

  • again.

  • Something that they've seen before.

  • They wanna be engaged.

  • So here are some things you might wanna think about

  • avoiding.

  • Number one.

  • A character waking up.

  • (laughing)

  • 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.

  • (laughing)

  • 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.

  • Bye.

- Hi everyone.

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A2 US opening reader character dialogue incident main character

How to Write a Strong Opening for your Novel

  • 58 5
    Cathy ♥ posted on 2018/11/27
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