Tag Archives: storytelling

Your Opening Image and Page One

small-camera As in the movies, the ideal opening image for novels and short fiction will be resonant and unique.  Or, as a perspicacious agent once said to me, “Why the bleep are you opening your story with a bunch of characters drinking beer in a pub?”

Take a look, for example, at the opening image of the 2007 film Once. The first scene nails time (night) place (empty city street — thus, an opposition, Dublin) the promise of genre (musical) and a hint at the central conflict, (a kind, talented man playing music in pain to an empty street, who clearly needs to get together with somebody).  The title letters come together, and we have the advent of the girl who likes his music.

There are plenty of books out there that nail time, place, tone, promise of genre, and a hint at the central conflict.  Of course, rules are meant to be broken — I’ve seen award-winners that begin with a two-page inner-voice rant. However, it’s a real pleasure to see instances where the five are nailed in the opening sentence, as in George Orwell’s 1984:  “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

I suggest brainstorming 15-20 ways a story might begin.  And, because it’s a great help to us all, I must mention the biggest aid to writing an opening scene:  the closing scene. Whether the first seeds the second, or we’ve got a circular tale on our hands, the fabulous end to a tale is our best help to writing a brilliant and engaging beginning.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing day.

Cheers, Mel

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseThere are no unimportant characters in your tale. Brilliant storytelling. From your Writing Muse

Storytelling and the Writer’s Mind

It seems as if our writers’ minds are working all the time.

Take your third act, for example. Everything you’ve outlined and drafted from the start results in shifts in your story, and your subconscious writer’s mind is keeping track of it all, each interwoven strand, keeping the sense of the whole story. This way you take some small but important aspect of the beginning and with it affect something vital at the end, which will resonate throughout your tale.

One great example you’ll remember from Lord of the Rings.  Bilbo’s kindness in not killing Gollum, who would have killed him, is echoed repeatedly in Frodo’s less certain relationship with the wicked creature, and at last forces the outcome of the third act showdown.

Do you remember the posy of unusual flowers Allaigna received from a stranger in Verse 4 of Allaigna’s Song (Pulp Literature Issue 2), which comforted her when she was alone in the woods in Verse 13 (PL #5)?  Without too many spoilers I can let you know you’ll see it again in Issue 8 and further down the road, its significance growing each time it appears.

Isn’t it grand how much our writing minds know? We learn these things instinctively as readers, but grow even more as writers as we employ our craft over and over on scales as small as a clever word choice and large as the whole world we created.