B is for Beginning

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

It is said that readers lose or keep interest in a story depending on the first lines, paragraphs, or chapters of your book. So how do you keep their interest? Make your beginning fabulous!

Start your story with a bang! I don't mean it has to literally begin with an explosion or a fight scene or something like that. Your first line should usually hold a punch of some type though, whether it is a line of dialogue, a character doing or feeling something, make it reach out and grab the reader.

"Act first, explain later." Often times, and I see this more often in fantasy really, writers begin chapters with a description of the setting in some flowery words in order to put the reader in the story. However, think of how much stronger a beginning if you start with that snarky line of dialouge or burst of action? Then sprinkle the setting details through the rest o fth escene. The reader still gets plopped into the new world, but hey also have the sense of excitement or impending doom!

"Act first, explain later." I can't say this enough. It's true. This also applies to all beginnings, not just the very beginning of your book but chapters too. Keep the reader begging for more! Don't le tme get bored at any time and they'll read you're story till the end! Here is an example, a beginning paragraph from on my novel Cleanse Fire. This is the beginning of chapter 23.

"I ask you again, why did you sell secrets about the Kinir Elite to Wizard Ackda?"

Rahder still said nothing. In a flash of movement, Derac leaned back on the table, planted his boot in the General's chest and shoved the elf and his chair backwards. The force of the kick caused Rahder’s feet to go over his head. The elf flipped into the wall.

Now, think of how different if it would be if the started the chapter like this:

Derac sat on the edge of the long table in the center of the room. General Rahder sat in front of him, hands tied together, resting in his lap. Sunlight steamed through the ceiling high windows, shining directlyl into the General's eyes. He squinted aginst the harsh light, making the scar on his cheek wrinkle.

"I ask you again, why did you sell secrets about the Kinir Elite to Wizard Ackda?" Derac said.

See the difference? So sit down and think how you can grab your readers attention with a great beginning.

16 Responses to "B is for Beginning"

Renae Says :
April 2, 2011 at 10:38 AM

I love a great beginning...love this post. Thanks for the fantastic advice!

Slloyd14 Says :
April 2, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Thanks for the tips on making beginnings better. I'm enjoying your April A to Z so far and I will look at your future posts.

Lisa Says :
April 2, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Very valuable advice. As a wannabe fiction author I will remember all of your helpful hints.

See you on Monday!


Mara Nash Says :
April 2, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Beginnings are sooooo difficult! It's tough to pull out just the right hook to reel in readers and the all-important agents.

Good idea for a B-post!

Tessa Conte Says :
April 2, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Beginnings are so important, in some of my stories I never get beyond that point... ; P

Anastasia V. Pergakis Says :
April 2, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Renae: I do too! I'm glad you liked the post and thanks for stopping by.

Slloyd: Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm glad you like my posts so far.

Lisa: Thank you. I'm glad my tips and hints can help you. It's always good to hear my experience helps someone else. :)

Mara: It is hard to pull them off just the right way, but as they practice makes perfect!

Tessa: I know! I don't either. I have so many started it's not even funny. Maybe one day, I'll get those finished too.

Holly Ruggiero Says :
April 2, 2011 at 3:38 PM

I like that you pointed out it not just the story beginning but each chapter needs a good beginning too! Thanks for the reminder.

A-Z Fellow Challenger
Holly Ruggiero’sPOV

Dawn Embers Says :
April 2, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Great post as I would have expected. As a reader, I will try to read a book even if I'm not keen on the beginning, though less so than I used to. I probably wouldn't have made it through Pride & Prejudice if I let the beginning stop me because during the first part of the book I had to put it down every couple of chapters. But by the second half I was hooked and had to keep reading.

I love fantasy but it is so true that reading is far better when just dropped in the world, searching for hints throughout the story instead of getting long paragraphs of explanation all at once. I try to start with action, though it may partly be due to my lack of world building... whatever works right?

Claire Goverts Says :
April 2, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Wonderful advice, and well written. Setting and good writing are important, but they won't be read if the reader puts the book down.

Anastasia V. Pergakis Says :
April 2, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Holly: You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by and for following my blog!

Dawn: Expected? LOL Why thank you! I do try to write good stuff. I have to read a book even if the beginning is bad. *sigh* It's a curse. I keep thinking it'll get better or all these useless details will suddenly make sense LOL.

Claire: Thanks for the follow on twitter and my blog here. Indeed you are right. Have to put all the details in the right way or the reader won't ever read them at all!

Cheree Says :
April 2, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Love the advice. I always hate beginnings. I hate trying to find the right place to start to gain the interest and keep it.

Anastasia V. Pergakis Says :
April 3, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Cheree: It is hard to do. I often just write down what comes to my head first then go back later to see if I can spruce it up a bit. It keeps me from getting stuck at the beginning and never getting to the middle or end. Thanks for commenting!

Sylvia Ney Says :
April 3, 2011 at 5:11 PM

Great advice! Thanks for sharing!

Anastasia V. Pergakis Says :
April 3, 2011 at 6:52 PM

Syliva: Thanks for stopping by!

Laura Pauling Says :
April 3, 2011 at 8:04 PM

big difference. for me, sensory details, visual imagery, and connecting to the character will hook me every time!

Anastasia V. Pergakis Says :
April 3, 2011 at 10:33 PM

Laura: Connecting to the character is a big thing for me too when reading. Thanks for stopping by!

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