Week 1: Re-Imagined Introduction

My first week of my 100 words a day challenge has thus far been a success! I’m so pleased with myself!

I’ve done quite a bit of work on this manuscript, although it doesn’t seem like it at the moment because I’ve rewritten the opening scene a few times to try and get it right. After writing the opening scene as I’d originally imagined it, I realised that it doesn’t really fit the tone of the rest of the novel very well. I didn’t get rid of it though – I just started again. The original scene would probably work better for a movie, especially as I’ve imagined it play out that way in my head, but as an opening to a novel it just took too long to get to the hook.

I attended a few writing classes when I lived in Brisbane and one of the best lessons I learned was that you shouldn’t bury your opening sequence under a mountain of descriptions and exposition, you need to grab the reader straight up. We were given two examples of opening sequences, one was from ‘The Hobbit’ and the other from a children’s book, the name of which escapes me. In The Hobbit, it took four pages to get past the flowery prose and to the point. In the other book, the opening sentence was “When Billy woke up, he discovered he was a girl”. Exactly to the point. I confess, I’m guilty of picking up books that look interesting in a bookstore, reading the first page or two, and putting them back if they didn’t grab me. So why should my manuscript be any different?

My story now leads directly into the first problem my protagonist faces.

And now: I’m off to do my work for the Sydney Writer’s Centre. I’ve finally worked out what to write for the first assignment, so I want to get through the readings and get writing. Oh, I also have a post I want to write about storytelling through tattoos, a subject I find personally fascinating. I’ll put that on the to do list as well.

3 thoughts on “Week 1: Re-Imagined Introduction

  1. I have been in the editing stage this week for my novel that is completed and this is the one thing that has bothered me about it. I fear it will be a pick it up and put it down book because I launched into a heavy description of the world in the first chapter which in a way is necessary because it sets the stage for the rest of the book but I don’t think it has the go get them factor it needs. I actually have been thinking if I play around with my flash fiction piece that I wrote I may be able to use it as a hook before I get into the more descriptive stuff. Thanks for confirming my feelings on this!

  2. I just dug out the notes I was given at the class I mentioned – we were using some of Robert McKee’s elements of storytelling. I found some of the notes on exposition quite useful – we learned that while exposition was sometimes necessary, it could be incorporated into dialogue to advance the story, rather than have a section wholly dedicated to whatever needed explaining. Is that something that could work for your novel?

  3. I have tried to use dialogue in many parts of the story in that way but I am not sure how to work it for the first part of the novel (page 1-10).

    The main character wakes up alone, wanders around her chambers, gets dressed, thinks about her home and then goes downstairs. Once she is downstairs she then interacts with other characters and there is some dialogue that moves the story along a bit.

    I have written it in third person narrative which does make a piece have more descriptive writing style but sometimes it is hard to know when it is too much. I think it would have been easier to write it in first person (certainly my other first person novels have been).

    Thanks for the suggestion. I am going to toil over this one for a bit and see if maybe a character can intrude a bit on her morning ritual just to make things more interesting.

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