Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Dog Rotted On the Road and Other Great Beginnings

Dear Dead Beat,

I am rewriting a novel I wrote and am confused about my beginning. Any thoughts on how to begin a novel?"

Serial Rewriter.

Dear Serial Rewriter,

Dead Beat has a thought on everything and often something more. Begin your novel with a capital letter.

Okay, okay. Begin with a hook. I don't care if you are writing entertainment or that other literary thingy, but you better get your reader onto the second line. Taking this a step further: if one line must lead to another, then one paragraph must lead to another, and so on. Hooks, hooks, hooks.

"It was a bright sunny morning" becomes "it was not a bright sunny morning." "The dog trotted down the road" becomes "the dog rotted on the road."

Figure out what your beginning is trying to say, then make it say it loud and clear, upfront and in the very first sentence.

Best opening to a piece of fiction ever? Richard Ford, Rock Springs, short story called Great Falls: "This is not a happy story. I warn you."
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