The Rentable Writer

Friday, June 16, 2006

... and action!

Any story that wants to capture the attention of an agent or editor right away has to have an attention-grabbing opener. I'm sure you've heard that advice a hundred different times, but I'm writing about this today, because I'm beginning to understand just how important this is. I gave a copy of the first chapter of my novel out to a friend and and asked her, "So, what d'you think of it?" and she replied, "It's really good." I asked, "What would you give it on a scale of 1-10." She said, "Seven ... no, actually, a six." I was okay with seven, I would've been happier with ten, but to me, 7 was acceptable. When she changed it to a six, though, I knew I'd have to rework it so the action come first-thing. She said that the action part was good, but I realized it's at the end of the chapter. So, quick advice: Open with action, continue with action, close with action. Don't even explain anything in your Opener until after the action. Action, action, action.


  • My favourite opening is:

    There is no feeling in the world more hopeless, more desperate, more frightening, than when you are standing looking at th end of a gun that's held steadily and calmly by someone you know is going to kill you.

    Simon Kernick, The Murder Exchange.

    It's all thought, but man, does it ever hook you. At least, it did for me!

    Openings are important, the thing I struggle with most, and they can make or break getting an agent, a publisher, an audience... Good luck with yours!

    By Blogger Sandra Ruttan, at June 16, 2006 10:32 AM  

  • Excellent advice, RW. Hook the reader and keep 'em strung along all the way to the end. Woot!

    By Blogger S. W. Vaughn, at June 16, 2006 11:42 AM  

  • I often find the action dragging in places in my work, which means back to the drawing board. Sometimes it's just hard to sustain the action level consistently. I often find myself getting sidetracked with other issues and don't even notice what's lacking until I go back and do a read-through from the beginning. Then it jumps out and slaps me upside the head.

    By Blogger Serena Joy, at June 16, 2006 1:39 PM  

  • I posted a comment about this yesterday, but blogger ate it.

    Darn blogger.

    By Blogger Sandra Ruttan, at June 17, 2006 12:12 PM  

  • sandra: That is an awesome opening. I'd be immediately hooked. I feel like I can relate to it, but ... oh, wait ... I can ... No, Gringy, I'm going to tell them what you did ... no, I didn't file a complaint with the RPHIFPA* ... yes, no one ever found and ... yes, I guess I forgive you ...

    s.w.: Hooking a reader is like catching a fish: once you've got them, you're going to scale, cook, and devour them ... oh, wait ... nevermind.

    serena: My action usually isn't dragging, but I seem to place it in random parts of the story, where it doesn't yet belong.

    *RPHIFPA = Real-People Helping Imaginary Friends Protection Agency

    By Blogger The Rentable Writer, at June 18, 2006 12:16 PM  

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