110

If I had to play out this scene from the POV of the protagonist, it would be hard to transition from "redshirt" to "heroine" in a first person narrative. She - as a person - is the heroine from the start no matter what the reader thinks. Her personality doesn't change. That's why I would play this scene out from the monster's point of view. For the monster ...


87

"Dear SE, I don't even know how to express how disappointed I am in you--literally. Because I don't know all the facts. But all the indications I've seen make me fear that the full facts would only make my current disappointment even greater." Thereby: Injecting some smartass humour, but also Expressing how huge your current disappointment is, while ...


75

YES, the first page is vitally important. But probably not in the way you think. Don't bring the "thriller" up first. The first page (and first sentence, and paragraph) is important in the same way your first meeting with somebody new is important. An agent or publisher (or indeed a customer thinking of buying your book) is going to read the opening line, ...


71

What pattern are you breaking? In this case, you are hoping the accumulation of other people's writing clichés will carry your opening. You want to subvert the trope, but unfortunately this trope subversion is almost as cliché. It's used when the protagonist is a strong female, and it's used when the villain is a strong female. Maybe the only reader this ...


53

Dear Stack Exchange, for once can you be honest with us? Why didn't you give Monica Cellio a second and private hearing? Yours, The volunteers who make up Stack Exchange.     Update #1 An explanation and an apology has recently been posted. An Update to our Community and an Apology The line We removed a moderator for ...


30

It depends on what your goal is --an open letter can have many different audiences, and the putative addressee may not be the actual target. With that said, the best structure for a persuasive argument is to start with common ground, and to show how the same things that all sides agree on lead inevitably towards your conclusion. Then, bring things full ...


29

This is an odd question, but not for the reason you likely think I say that. Let me explain. It doesn't matter how good your opening line is, if it isn't completely in line (or in tune) with the rest of your novel. If I were to write an epic tale about three friends who need to save the world, and I open with: The tortoise, how marvellous creature it ...


27

The way you open a novel largely depends on what kind of novel you're writing. If you're writing a humorous novel, there should be something humorous right on the first page. Look, for example, at Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens: It was a nice day. All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain ...


27

The first page of your novel is vitally important, but not necessarily because the action starts there. The first page, and first several pages, should: set your tone and reader expectations. In a thriller, that means establishing a rhythm that will push forward rather than linger, and maybe having some sort of stakes already in play, even if they're ...


19

Never I would have believed to consider StackExchange but the mask before the monstrous face of intolerance. That's not stronger than your first attempt. It's so archaic even experienced writers (e.g. me) have trouble parsing it. It took me several tries to see it's not full of errors, and several hours later I'm still not sure about "believed to consider". ...


17

Write from the POV of the monster. This way the prey can be described in more dismissive terms. You can then add inner thoughts of the monster. Dismissive thoughts about how this one does what they all do. First they get scared and their blood makes them easier to find. Then they run, and tire themselves out. Next they die. Hey wait, where did that thumping ...


17

Obviously the little girl is doing the hating, and her father is not a stranger. You want HER to hate the killer. You can show that, being little she can even tell him so, there can be a dialogue exchange between them. Her actions, her fear, her speech can all convey her hatred, fear and dislike. You want the reader to empathize with the GIRL, you want them ...


17

I look at the first sentence as the "airport giftshop hook". If someone's got 5 minutes to kill before their flight, and wants to find an interesting read, how much of a hook is your first sentence (and perhaps then the rest of that first page afterwards)? Does it intrigue the reader, and make them want to read more? Its perhaps a cheap trick, but its done ...


16

"I am horrified to find..." whatever you are horrified to have discovered "I am most disappointed..." or maybe "I am shocked" or if the event you are writing about is worse you can say "I am appalled to discover..." or "I am disgusted to find that..." Or you can readily swap to a past tense by "I was..." English has many ways to express dislike of ...


14

The best way to avoid overly general openers is to write them. Go ahead, write them all down. Get them out of your system. If you don't, they're gonna be on your brain distracting you. Once you finish your opening paragraph, go back and cut it ruthlessly. That first line is out of there. Maybe the second and third line too. Start at the line that ...


14

I would do a heroic twist of the very first scene of the Buffy the Vampire series, which opens with two high-schoolers: a rather rough around the edges but still 90s cool boy and a nervous girl who is following him, but he keeps having to assure her that they're safe and no one is in the school building that they are breaking into after hours. Now, if you'...


13

While there is no one single way, here's a practical approach. You need to be capable of answering a few crucial questions about your work: What is the work's overall feel and style? What, about the very first couple of pages, do you hope is going to grab the reader's attention, and earn their interest in the story? What are the most urgent goals for you ...


11

There's no reason why it couldn't work, as long as you quickly make clear that it's internal dialogue. If it's a first-person narrative, the entire story is "internal dialogue," in a sense. The main benefit is to give the reader immediate access to the character's inner life, which may help us identify with him/her/it/them. The only real con I could see ...


11

Some of my favorite books have started in essentially this way, with a protagonist who doesn't know who he or she is, not to mention where or why -- these include Raw Shark Texts, Nine Princes in Amber and Dhalgren. For me, I think it works because it's often the experience we have in dreams, or occasionally in the first minutes after waking up. There's a ...


11

The opening lines generally set the tone of the book. Why are you starting with your protagonist running? Is that the theme of the story, are they running away from something physical or emotional? Take the first line from Pride and Prejudice: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a ...


11

Each chapter will open on something that sets the scene to come. A descriptive paragraph (or other length) that focuses on the setting is a perfectly legitimate way to do this, but it's not required. You can also open with dialogue, or character thoughts, or an action, for example. If you have multiple POVs, you may wish to start each chapter with ...


10

Your title, first sentence, paragraph, page, and chapter are your hooks to catch the reader. Make sure they are baited well. So, if you start with internal monologue, it had better be interesting, not just bland, random thoughts about how it's high up on the wherever. I realize that was just an example, but compare: Bad: "It's so high up here," thought ...


10

If you read any Dan Brown books (Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons etc.), he generally writes a prologue where the main character (of the prologue) is actually the victim of the murder that the protagonist investigates throughout the rest of the book. There are many more authors than just J.K. Rowling who are accomplished and have managed this feat. That ...


10

Avoid beginning your draft with the first sentence. I know that sounds unintuitive to the point of madness, but I speak from experience. Even when I begin the drafting process with a clear idea of where things are headed, there are always at least one or two surprises waiting for me (usually in the 2nd act, but that's a personal thing). And the stress of ...


10

+1, Wetcircuit, though I will disagree on the Buffy angle; she is right on the misdirection. This is difficult to pull off. The way I would do it is a little "close up magic"; you have to write from the POV of the hero but still mislead the reader into thinking she is doing something DIFFERENT than what she is doing. One way to do that is give her a phone ...


10

I find that in the course of angry letter writing, you are walking a balancing act in which you have an action taken that could be motivated by bad faith or by incompetence or an incomplete picture of the situation, so it's best to approach the subject in a clinical manner and lay down the factual merits for your case, rather than your emotional merits. ...


9

I'm afraid this piece feels far too jumbled for me to be intrigued by it. I feel like a lot of unrelated information is being thrown at me, and most of it isn't even real information - it's vague hints at details that haven't been revealed yet, and at this point I still have no idea why these details might be interesting. This may be counter-intuitive, but ...


9

In Medias Res: in the middle of things. What you're referring to isn't commonly done (that is to say, starting your story at the climax or at the end of the story). That doesn't mean it isn't done, just not commonly. So. Let's tease this apart somewhat. In Medias Res typically starts the story in the action (not the climax, but simply action). The reason ...


9

At this point: don't sweat it. You've got ideas, and you need to put something on paper (or the computer) to get yourself started. So take one of those ideas and go with it. Any half-way decent opening will do as well as any other at this point, because you aren't writing something that your readers will see; you're writing for yourself. I very much suspect ...


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