The opening pages of a novel are extremely important. They’re what readers see first, and if they’re good, they’ll catch readers’ attention and draw them into the story. However, if they don’t catch readers’ attention, then the rest of your novel will go unread. With having dedicated so much time to your work, you want readers to finish, and then recommend, your writing.
Here are five things your opening pages should not have:
- Spelling or grammatical errors. If readers see typos, awkward sentence structures, etc. on the first pages of a work, they’re more likely to assume that the work is amateur, poorly written, and/or that the details haven’t been fleshed out. Perhaps the rest of the novel doesn’t have any grammatical errors, but if there are errors on the opening pages, readers will make negative assumptions about the rest of the work and will be less likely to continue reading it.
- Weather. This is a clichéd opening. At one point in history (see Victorian literature), opening a story with a description of the weather worked because it was new. Nowadays, weather has been so overdone as an opening that it doesn’t attract readers. Not to mention that a winding description of the weather isn’t a huge attention grabber in its own right.
- Rise and shine. There is nothing exciting about reading about how a character wakes up in the morning, goes through his morning routine, and thinks about all the things he has to do that day. The morning wake-up routine as a story opening will makes readers want to hit their own snooze buttons.
- Dreams. It’s fine to have a short dream sequence(s) within your novel, but not as your opening. When readers start a novel, they want to be grounded in the reality of the world. They believe that what they’re reading is the core information they’ll need throughout the story. They don’t want to get sucked into the first few pages only to realize that everything they’ve read was a dream. That feels like a lie and a trick.
- Distractions from the main theme(s). The beginning of a piece of work should incorporate the main theme(s) of the novel. Readers should have a good idea of where the novel is going after they’ve read the opening. If readers are left confused, focused on lesser themes or idle dialogue, or overwhelmed with an information dump, that’s not good.What about you?
What about you? Are there any types of opening scenes that make you shut a book?