118 votes
Accepted

How to trick the reader into thinking they're following a redshirt instead of the protagonist?

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 ...
Oren_C's user avatar
  • 1,732
88 votes

"Dear Stack Exchange, I am very disappointed in you" - How to construct a strong opening line in a letter?

"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 ...
sesquipedalias's user avatar
77 votes
Accepted

Is the first page of a novel really that important?

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 ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 99.6k
73 votes

How to trick the reader into thinking they're following a redshirt instead of the protagonist?

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 ...
wetcircuit's user avatar
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53 votes

"Dear Stack Exchange, I am very disappointed in you" - How to construct a strong opening line in a letter?

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.   &...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
31 votes

"Dear Stack Exchange, I am very disappointed in you" - How to construct a strong opening line in a letter?

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 ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
29 votes

How to derive a first sentence from a story?

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 ...
Fayth85's user avatar
  • 5,441
29 votes

Is the first page of a novel really that important?

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 ...
wordsworth's user avatar
  • 3,127
27 votes

How to open a novel?

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 ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
27 votes

Do I have to start my story with my main characters?

I've seen this done frequently, in well-known books, so it clearly CAN be done. With that said, I've rarely personally found it to be a good idea. The risk is that the reader gets invested in the ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
19 votes

How to trick the reader into thinking they're following a redshirt instead of the protagonist?

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 ...
Summer's user avatar
  • 4,451
19 votes

"Dear Stack Exchange, I am very disappointed in you" - How to construct a strong opening line in a letter?

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....
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 945
18 votes

Is the first page of a novel really that important?

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 (...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 1,279
17 votes

Should I describe a character deeply before killing it?

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 ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 99.6k
17 votes

Do I have to start my story with my main characters?

Rather than asking people if you "have" to do something, I would suggest asking yourself "why" you want to do something. As an author you can do nearly anything you want. Some ...
Anthony Ingram-Westover's user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

How to avoid introduction cliches

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 ...
Cyn's user avatar
  • 32.4k
16 votes

"Dear Stack Exchange, I am very disappointed in you" - How to construct a strong opening line in a letter?

"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 ...
houninym's user avatar
  • 261
15 votes

How to trick the reader into thinking they're following a redshirt instead of the protagonist?

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 ...
hszmv's user avatar
  • 13.4k
14 votes

How to avoid introduction cliches

Get to the point? In the field of mathematics, there are problems that present an exceptional level of difficulty. Isn't really the point of your paper is it? This is just fluff. You lose ...
ashleylee's user avatar
  • 1,152
13 votes

How to derive a first sentence from a story?

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 ...
Standback's user avatar
  • 28.2k
12 votes

How to trick the reader into thinking they're following a redshirt instead of the protagonist?

+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 ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 99.6k
11 votes

How do you drop a reader in the middle of nowhere at the beginning of a story?

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 ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
11 votes

The problem with beginning

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? ...
Matt Hollands's user avatar
11 votes

Building a scene and readability

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. ...
Cyn's user avatar
  • 32.4k
11 votes

"Dear Stack Exchange, I am very disappointed in you" - How to construct a strong opening line in a letter?

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 ...
hszmv's user avatar
  • 13.4k
10 votes

How to derive a first sentence from a story?

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 ...
J.H. Cowel's user avatar
9 votes

How Can You Use "In Medias Res" To Beautify Your Amazing Masterpiece?

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, ...
Fayth85's user avatar
  • 5,441
9 votes

How to trick the reader into thinking they're following a redshirt instead of the protagonist?

(Note: This answer is basically the opposite of Cyn's answer. I can see arguments for doing it either way; in the end you might have to play around a bit and see what works best for your story. Cyn's ...
PoorYorick's user avatar
  • 2,842
9 votes

Should I describe a character deeply before killing it?

You don't need to describe the character of the father before hand. You could do that, but that would be irrelevant. In fact the conflict is between the daughter and the killer. In fact, you have ...
NofP's user avatar
  • 10.6k

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