Monday, 25 April 2011

Opening of the Novel

Opening of the book is one of the most important things. First and foremost, this is what going to decide if an agent accepts your book, and later if a publisher likes it. Assuming it made through those two doors, this is what is going to convince most readers to pick up your book. Of course there are people who would give books a chance more than others, but on the whole, opening is crucial.

So we, as writers, need to make sure that the opening chapter promises good things to come. Of course then with the rest of the book we need to live up to that promise.

How easy it is for you to pick what your opening scene should be? For my current WIP, I started a first draft with a particular scene. It felt like the right scene. It had action in normal setting for the character before he gets thrown into abnormal circumstances. After the draft, I deleted the scene, and started with the second scene because I felt that beginning was too slow. Then after a while, I felt beginning was too hurried, so I added the other scene back in, changed various things, tightened it. Now, I have taken that scene out again, amended the second scene slightly. I am not sure yet if I will stick with it, because I am still in the process of editing it, and also because of deleting the first scene, other things in the story will need to be amended, as whatever was said in the first scene, now needs to be said somewhere else.

One thing I am fairly certain of is that it will be either one of these two scenes, or a mixture of both that will open my book. I don't think I will be writing something completely new to go there. But some of the questions that came up as I edit this is finding the balance of introducing character without remaining stagnant. Launching into action, without making it seem too hurried. Getting readers to meet the character, and empathise with him, without making it a leisurely stroll. There are a myriad of other details that go into consideration, but most importantly, how does it feel when I read a book that begins with that particular scene. I try to look at it from a reader's point of view. That's why I can't usually decide while I am editing - because I am too close to my writer side. But once it's done, and I do a read through, then I get more perspective.

What about you? Does your first scene always remain the one you picked originally? How easy it is for you to determine what it should be? Do you ever have doubts about it?


  1. Hi! You have a great blog that I've just discovered as a result of having won the Versatile Blogger award. So I'm paying it forward. Congratulations! You're now a winner too!

  2. I think the opening scene is incredibly difficult to decide on and execute. Most of the time, I go back and change it once the rest of the story is finished.

    Found your blog by way of Diane's (*waves up*). Glad to have discovered you!

  3. You're so right about the importance of that opening scene! This is probably why I tend to agonize over them. I'll go back and change it, then change it back, then change it again. I'll put a prologue in, take it out again, rewrite it so it becomes the first chapter . . . I have to force myself to leave it alone until the draft is finished and I can get a little more perspective on what I'm doing.

  4. Hi Diane,

    Thank you for the award, and thank you for following :-) I am following your blog through facebook now. And looking forward to discovering new books for paying it forward with this award. I will do a post in few days, as I am currently abroad on holiday.

  5. Nicole,

    Welcome :-) I will check out your blog in a few days as well. (Flying home tomorrow, so will get back into routine).

    Well, I am for the moment sticking to the changes I made to my opening scene, but as I go through rest of the novel, I will have to see what affect it has over the rest of the story

  6. Carol,

    You are right about perspective. I don't usually worry too much about it when I am writing a first draft. However, when it is time to edit, then it gets difficult, because you have to decide. And the more changes you keep making means you have to go through the rest of the book to make appropriate changes in the rest of the story.