Sunday, September 19, 2010

The journey to an opening

Hello there!! So...I was reading my book out loud to hubby for the first time. It was rather exhiliarting and kind of scary too. (As a side note...while I read I found myself projecting the voices I imagined my narrators to have, but it didn't feel quite right. When I let myself naturally come up with a voice from the words present as I would with any other book I was reading aloud, the voices that did come out of me were totally shocking. Sort of like, did I do that? The narrators' personalities came off stronger than I'd hoped. Yay!)

At one point Gabriel said, "underline that whole part that you just read." He said that he really really liked that part and we agreed that it was where Joaviz's (one of my narrators) voice comes off the strongest.

The next day, I read posts about openings, and I wondered how much work I would put in to perfect the first five pages. My guess is that it'll be...a lot.

Today I was wondering about what snags me with an opening. (I never read jacket covers and do not pick books for subject matter or plot, so usually its the opening that gets me to read a book). I decided that its voice. Of course. I talk about voice a lot, don't I? Well, yeah. All writers do. Without a strong voice, you got shit. That's just the way it goes.

So, I'm thinking that I will take the section that gave us the strongest sense of Joaviz's voice and have it be my opening. Even though it comes from a few scenes later, I've found a way to work it into the very first scene.

This could change, of course, but I'm definitely on the path to the right opening. (Its already changed three times.) Here's the part I'm referring to:

Lily says I’m a scene girl, but I say I’m Old Hollywood plus punk.
Lately though, its just been black black black. Its not that I’m turning goth or black-cat-camera-eye (that’s what me and Lil call those slam poetry types). I’m not trying to mourn too soon. I’m not trying to do anything.
When I wake up and get dressed, I might wear a bright green t-shirt around the house, but I can’t get myself to go outside in anything but black, and maybe a little olive green. 

I tend to not like openers that feel gimmicky, like "I was about to learn that life wasn't fair" or "That was the summer that changed everything." If there's an audible voice and an interesting character, then I'm usually sold.

What are your favorite types of openers? How did you choose your own opening?


  1. My favorite openings give me the poetry of the writer's voice as opposed to the characters. Next to that I like an opening that introduces a dramatic moment. I like the language here.

  2. I usually open with action. But that can't be it alone. It has to be something that really shows what my character does and WHY she or he might be doing it. Even if it's just an internal reaction to something strange happening.

  3. First ~ BRILLIANT opener. You should tots keep it.
    Second ~ I don't really give too much thought to openings . . . until just recently, so I don't have a favorite type. As for choosing my own, it's always something that comes really strong to me. If it's forced, then it won't work.

  4. Great opener. Like you it's either voice or a really unique premise.

  5. Poetic voice, action, internal reactions...great ideas everybody. I like it when I can really get to know the MC right away. So how they talk and how they react to outside forces, both would do the trick.
    And I totally agree that choosing the opening should not be forced. Much needs forcing with writing, but some things just need time.