The opening paragraph, or even sentence, in any book will set the tone for that book, and lay down certain expectations for the reader. No one likes a weak opening. It’s like a limp handshake—sweaty, boneless, and something you can’t wait to get away from at the first opportunity.
Consider these openers:
"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea." – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
“Marley was dead to begin with.” -- A Christmas Carol
“Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” – Gone with the Wind
Consider a book’s opening very much like a pick-up line. If it doesn’t grab you or is charming and exciting, your interest probably won’t be captured and you’ll walk away to be potentially tempted by a new one.
Here’s the opening paragraph for my work-in-progress:
The abstract patterns from the violent spray dotted the rose-patterned paper of an unfamiliar drawing room, blending a macabre design with the sedate ordinary. A thick pool of ruby collected under the body of a blond-haired man, a dagger buried to the hilt in his chest, the inlaid jewels on the handle winked in the soft candlelight.
I know, right? Kinda cool and spooky and intriguing. Well, I might be biased…
The thesis paper of your whole novel. But nothing beats them. From the moment I type the opening sequence of a story, I feel such a rush, this wonderful can’t-be-beat feeling that I’m hovering on the verge of quite possibly the most wild ride I’ve ever created. I can’t wait to see where my characters go, why they get into trouble, how they’ll get out of it, when will they kiss, is there going to be a happy ending?
Just one of the aspects of writing that I love. So, as I post this blog, know I’m returning to the beginning of my newest book with high hopes and even higher expectations. See you at the end.
What’s the best opening of one of your favorite books you’ve read or written?