(Apologies if this question has already been asked. I've looked around but can't find this specific question, only related ones.)
The general advice seems to be "don't start your story with dialogue." Readers will be disoriented from the start and feel unmotivated to continue reading since they don't know and don't care who's talking.
But what if the dialogue is woven into the opening scene like this?
"Talk, or I'll shoot."
Beads of sweat rolled down Adam's face as he stared at the barrel of John's gun. It was hard to see in the darkness of the room, lit only by a single dim lantern hanging from the ceiling. The smell of cigarettes and urine muddled his senses, and he bit back the vomit that was rising from the pits of his stomach.
"Okay, okay," Adam said, giving in. "I was there. I saw her take the money."
John's eyes were dark. "Where'd she go?"
"I don't know."
John pulled the trigger. The bullet flew past Adam's face, blasting a hole in the wall behind him.
"Fifth Avenue!" Adam blurted, trying to steady his breath. "In a red sedan—there was another man in the car. That's all I know, honest."
John lingered for a few moments, then lowered the gun and dipped his head in thought. Seeing his chance, Adam struggled against the ropes that bound his arms and legs, desperate for escape. If the smell of the room didn't kill him, John definitely would.
- Would this approach work? Will publishers frown upon my work after reading the first line?
- What do people mean when they say "don't start your story with dialogue"? Do they mean a full conversation or just any dialogue?
- Can anyone offer a better explanation why starting a story with dialogue is bad? I don't quite understand. Many great stories start with dialogue, and they definitely hook me.