So one thing I noticed this morning sitting back and staring at the spines of my favourite books (oh come on admit it, you do it too! right?) is that all of my favourite novels have great opening scenes. In ‘The Pain Merchants’ Nya is trying to steal an egg when the farmer catches her and in ‘Throne of Glass’ Celaena is being dragged from where she was imprisoned in the salt mines of Endovier by the captain of the guard to Prince Dorian.
I didn’t know these characters, so I had yet to love them but from that first page, I had already decided I had to know what their story was. A character might drive the plot, but a novel needs a great plot and a great hook to entice the reader into wanting to keep reading and want to get to know the character in the first place.
I’ve tried to write opening scenes before like I write poems. With poetry, I need to try and use language to express raw emotion. Poetry is a lot different from writing a novel though, I discovered this technique doesn’t work when writing a novel. It isn’t enough to commit to the book because it isn’t enough for me to care about the character. I can’t expect any reader to give a crap about this fictional character I made up because he/she has feelings.
It has to be setting. For me, I have to start my novel at a turning point in my character’s timeline. Any history can be filled in later and that’s how I write my opening scene.