FOUR QUALITIES REQUIRED FOR A STRONG BEGINNING
The beginning of your book is the most difficult to get right and the scariest. Especially, when you consider the weight, they carry the overall story.
A beginning must accomplish all of the following:
1. Give the reader a reason to care about what happens to the character.
2. Must have an irresistible hook.
3. Introduce the story’s overall tone (romantic, dramatic, etc.).
4. Present an appropriate setting (time and place), conflict and theme.
The beginning of every story is similar to a résumé. You display your talents and skills and hope the reader will find what she’s looking for. Without these important qualities, your book will not be enjoyable.
So how do to you achieve this? Well, you write and you rewrite. And then you repeat. Maybe this wasn’t what you wanted to hear, but never the less its the truth.
HOW TO MAKE A SUCCESSFUL STORY BEGINNING
Utilise a character at the beginning. Beginnings are all about character. If the reader doesn’t find your character interesting or wants to care about them, they’ll stop reading, even if the plot is. In the end, people read fiction because of character. They won’t waste their time on characters that aren’t colourful and entertaining. And neither should you as a writer. From the very first page, you must give the readers a character they won’t be able to get out of their heads. But more important than just infusing our cast with scintillating personalities and rapid-fire wit (although never underestimate either of these), is giving the reader a reason to care about the characters.
ACTION ALONE ISN’T ENOUGH FOR A STRONG CHARACTER
Writers are often encouraged, to begin a story with action. The theory is that if you throw an obvious protagonist into a harrowing situation, the reader will love him just because he’s in trouble. Not always. Someone in trouble may gain a sympathetic response from some readers on a surface level. But to make them really be concerned about what happens to this character they have to care about him. Action (aka conflict) and suspense is the heart of any story and definitely an essential factor in a successful beginning. But, without a strong character introduction, they aren’t going to be worth very much by themselves.
OPEN THE STORY WITH A CHARACTER
The beginning is the single most important factor, not just in opening a story, but in setting the tone for the entirety of the tale to follow. So what’s the best way to introduce this dazzling character of yours without overloading the reader with unnecessary facts? Following is a very non-exclusive list of suggestions that can be used, in any order and any combination,
GIVE THE CHARACTER A NAME
It’s easier to encourage someone to care for a character with a name, so give your character name the reader can build on. with first-person narratives, so this isn’t a hard and fast rule.
Show the reader, through your character’s words, actions, and internal narrative, how she views the world. Is she a cynic? A dreamer? How does she view the conflict on the opening pages?
Without a good character, your story will fall flat. But, be warned without a good story your character will fall flat too. If you are able to master the art of character introduction, you’ve already sorted three-quarters of the battle.