This month of daily writing advice will include tidbits, tips, and sometimes tricks. This isn’t a replacement for editing or book coaching, it’s meant as a jumping off point for exploration and thought! I hope it helps! ~Amy
5 Tips For Fabulous Fiction First Lines and Paragraphs
I love first lines and first paragraphs that hook me, set the tone, deliver expectations. I could do a whole workshop on novel openings, but that’s not why we’re here. (Idea, maybe?)
Here are 5 things to keep in mind when writing the opening lines of your novel.
- Introduce your protagonist. Show the reader who she is. Your reader has to know who to care about. (There was a WordPress update so I have no idea why there is gray under those letters, nor can I figure out how to remove it. Not liking this update.)
- Root the reader in your setting. What’s important, specific transportive? It can be the bigger picture setting or a smaller one. (city vs house) Be visual.
- Anticipate change. Your protagonist should be on the precipice of something new, or right smack in the middle of chang. En media res is the fancy way to say it.
- Raise questions. Don’t ASK questions, raise them. Don’t be vague, but provide enough so that your reader knows what to be curious about.
- Set expectations. Your reader should know pretty quickly what the story is about — at least some of it. By the end of page 1 or 2, if your reader can’t tell you what the story is about, your reader is setting down the book. (boo!)
If you can get most or even some of these into your opening, you’ll be in good shape.
Here are the openings to my three published novels. Obviously I’m proud of them — why do you think they either work or don’t? (You needn’t reply, just something to think about)
THE GLASS WIVES (2013 St. Martin’s Press)
THE GOOD NEIGHBOR (2015 St. Martin’s Press)
LEFT TO CHANCE (2017 St. Martin’s Press)
SEE YOU TOMORROW!