YOUR OPENING SCENE
HUMBERT: “She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms, she was always— Lolita. Light of live, fire of my loins. My sin. My soul.”
—Lolita, 1997, Adrian Lyne.
How do I begin a novel?
First lines are quite tricky to write. Most likely the author will rewrite them several times until they show the pretended expectation to the reader: The promise.
What’s your promise?
Your promise can be emotional—I want the reader to laugh, to cry, to thrill…— or an intellectual challenge—If you read this, you’ll see the world from a different perspective or you’ll confirm what you believe about this world.
So the writer must know what promise their novel makes, and write a killer opening line with the following traits:
1. A character to care about.
2. Conflict. The beginning should tell some indication that something isn’t going as expected. Of course, the development of the conflict comes later.
3. Details. You should know what you are talking about. Details convey reality to the story.
Here are some examples.
Now, it’s your turn. Write a bunch of opening lines quickly, with different ways to show the information. It may give you some surprises. Enjoy your writing!
Copyright © 2012 by THE PYTHAGOREAN STORYTELLER. All rights reserved.