Friday, January 19, 2007


"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon." - E.L. Doctorow

I'm working on the first twenty-five pages of several novels for contest entries. Openings, really good openings, are hard to manage and though I've done my best with the ones I sent on to some friends, I figure they'll come back with "good, but you can do better" written along the top in virtual red ink.

I still have 2.5 to work on. I far prefer endings to openings. Endings are great. Wrapping everything up, HEA and all that. I usually try to end with one good sentence that puts it all into place. I agonize over that sentences, but I think I do pretty well (she said humbly).

But openings? I. Hate. Them.

There's so much pressure to get it right. Editors and agents want the first three chapters. Many times you include the first page or three when you send a query and if they aren't strong, well-written and attention grabbing, you can kiss your chances goodbye.

Openings. Ugh.

And you don't want to start of with a prologue, right? Or maybe you do. Depends on who you ask (Bob or Jenny). And don't start with dialogue, right? Again, depends on who you ask. So, if you do or don't do one of those things, and hit the agent or editor who feels strongly in the opposite direction, well then you're out of luck again.

Oh, the pressure.

What about you? How do you feel about openings? Love writing them or hate it? Do you prefer endings? C'mon, give.


benning said...

I dunno. Openings are like stepping through a door. An entire vista lays before you. It's following up with the rest of the tale that can grind things to a halt.

"It was a dark and stormy night."

anno said...

Ummm.. given that I've never gotten past the first 8000 words, I guess I'd have to say that openings seem like more fun: love at first sight. Of course that hasn't always been enough to carry me through to the HEA.

Carmi said...

I often start with the ending, then work my way back. Openings remind me of dances in the sixth grade: I stood on one side of the gym, afraid to make the first move lest I say or do the wrong thing and forever ruin any chance of getting anywhere with the prettiest girl there.

Of course, being a backwards kind of person probably helps!

Love your blog, BTW. It's nice to stumble across a writer's site with such warmth and grace.

MaryF said...

I hate endings! So tough. I like beginnings much better, but it's hard to get it just right. What contests are you entering? I'm looking at 4 Seasons....

Allie Boniface said...

I hate openings, with such a passion I cannot fully express it on the page. I feel all this pressure to accomplish so much in them : introduce the characters, establish the conflict, provide enough background for the reader but not too much to drown her...ugh. I much prefer endings, because by the time I get there, all the hard stuff has been done.