How to Create a Strong Opening Scene

How to Create a Strong Opening Scene, Planning Your Novel, Structure, Beginnings, Opening Scenes, Renea Guenther, Hooks

Your opening scene is the deciding factor in whether people will read your book or not.

If it doesn’t capture your reader’s attention in the first couple pages, more than likely, they’ll put your book down and go find another.

With the speed of today’s world, people no longer have the time or patience to wade through a slow beginning. No matter how engaging the rest of the book is.

The goal is to keep the reader turning the page.

The easiest way to do this is to create interest, a puzzle or something interesting to keep them reading.

There are three different hooks writers use to achieve this:

Action

You’ve heard this a million times: start with the action.

But there’s a reason for this. It is the most effective and proven method used to gain readers to date.

And until someone finds a better way to start a book, you’re going to keep hearing it.

But that doesn’t mean every book should start in the middle of a battle with life and death consequences.

If everybody did that, reading would quickly become monotonous and boring.

And I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a life without reading.

Action just means the reader needs to see the protagonist facing a conflict with consequences for failure and a goal for getting out of it.

Preferably in their normal lives and tied to the plot in some way.

If a fight works best for your book, that’s fine.

But there are a variety of ways to create conflict without every book starting the same way.

You’re not locked into anything.

Setting

As tempting as it may be to paint a beautiful picture of your world, starting with more than a paragraph or two of description will soon drag down the story as your readers quickly become bored.

However, starting with setting can be a highly effective opening if used correctly.

The setting should play an active role in the introduction of your protagonist and their life.

Whether you choose to use it as the cause of the conflict or as a tool used by the protagonist or the opposing side to gain the upper hand is up to you.

Everything you write should serve a purpose, especially in the opening scene.

Endless description does not serve any purpose other than to bog down the story, no matter how pretty it might be.

A Problem to be Solved

The last way to open a scene is to use a problem in your protagonist’s world or everyday life to create conflict.

It does not have to connect to the core conflict, but it does have to point them in the right direction.

If it doesn’t do either, cut it.

It holds no purpose and does nothing but weigh the story down.

Wrap-up

No matter which opening you choose, it should push the story forward in some way.

Every scene should have your protagonist facing some sort of conflict with consequences for the choices they make and a goal they strive to reach.

If you can grab your reader’s attention and keep them interested all the way to the end, you might just find yourself with a fan willing to buy your next book.

Isn’t that what we all strive for?

What kind of opening grabs your readers’ attention?

FOR FURTHER READING

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Renea strives to help writers develop the focus and skills they need to finish their first novel, offering writers practical writing advice they can apply one step at a time.

She is the author of Conquering Writing Pressures: Living a Balanced Writing Life in a Busy World where she helps writers find the courage to accept life will never be perfect. And if we want our dreams to succeed, we must fight to make them a reality.

She currently lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, with her husband Joe, her three children, and her five lovable furballs.

From a young age, Renea was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, which she read in the ninth grade.

She is an avid reader, with her main interests residing in history, mythology, and fantasy, along with some romance and science fiction in her earlier years.

When Renea’s not writing, she enjoys genealogy, role-playing games, and dreams of traveling the world. In a past life, she plucked chickens and milked cows.

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4 thoughts on “How to Create a Strong Opening Scene

  1. Some experts insist that a book or short story should never begin with unattributed dialogue. However, I’ve read some excellent stories that ignore this “rule.” If the dialogue is something catchy like “Help, I’m over here,” with a fast-paced introduction to a dangerous scenario, it can draw readers in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Does Your Novel Have a Strong Beginning? – Renea Guenther

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