And for this week’s blog post steal, I’m borrowing from Kristin Nelson and Angie Hodapp. They started a series in June of 2016 about 9 Story Openings to Avoid. The first one is the traditional sittin’ and thinkin’. As opposed to the opening of Julia Quinn’s Brighter Than the Sun which starts with this: “Eleanor Lyndon was minding her own business when Charles Wycombe, Earl of Billington, fell – quite literally – into her life.”
Week 2 of the series is opening your novel with White Room Syndrome. I’d never heard that one. They describe it like this: “In other words, you may have succeeded at putting at least one character on the page, and maybe some sort of action, too, but you’ve forgotten to share any details about your setting. Does your opening scene occur inside or outside? At night or during the day? In cold weather or hot? Where is your character, what’s nearby, and how does this environment affect him or her in this scene?”
It goes through week 7 at this point. Week 3 is opening with a mindless task, as in, “Monday started like any other day,” which sounds to me a lot like sittin’ and thinkin’, except the character is folding laundry and thinkin’. Week 4 is talking heads dialogue, which could also be Julia Quinn because she just LOVES dialogue, although I can’t think of a specific example of her starting with dialogue.
And on it goes. The last one I found was Part 7 – Opening with backstory or exposition. The examples for this are clever. Angie chimes in with examples that look like action, but then quickly switch to “six weeks ago . . .” and you’re in backstory instead of here and now. (By the way, these can be found in their Pub Rants section.)
We’ve talked openings many times here on 8LW, but I think it can always be relevant as we’re always starting something, editing something, or thinking about starting something. I’m editing so that I have something ready for RWA. I’m finding some valuable kernels, many of them reminders, that are helping me, and not just with the opening. Some of this can apply to all aspects of a manuscript.