18 April 2016

Opening Scene

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

I won’t deny the fact that I like to cause trouble.

Everyone knows how important an opening scene is in a book. You want to have something interesting enough to hook the reader in and get them wanting more. At the same time, you don't want to give too much away all at once, or it could be confusing. So what do you include in your first scene? How do you get the story going so that someone wants to read it? 

Sometimes you can't just think about what is going to happen after the first scene, but also what has happened before it. What has happened to your characters to bring them to this point, and why does this particular moment lead to an entire new story? Sometimes background information can be used, or it can be saved for later. If you hint at something on the first few pages, you may just keep the reader intrigued enough to keep going. 

I've only recently written the third draft of my first scene, complete with a brand spankin' new first line (see above!). I've always known exactly where my first scene would take place (a classroom), but figuring out how much information to share has always been a bit tricky. In my previous drafts, there was quite a bit of exposition alongside the action that was happening within in the scene. It made the scene too confusing because there was just so much going on. So I shifted the focus to what was actually happening. There are a few hints here and there at some other things, but those aren't really revealed for a few more pages. 

What has happened before the story begins also plays a huge role in my first scene, which also makes things a little tricky. It's kind of an overlap scene. It's the end of one story and the beginning of another. What has happened before the story begins isn't terribly interesting, but without it, there would be no reason for the novel to exist. So I do have to include a little bit of exposition on what has already happened. Luckily it isn't all that hard to explain, so it doesn't drag down the story. 

What I really wanted to do with the first scene is introduce the main character. Some people may find the things he does strange, but hopefully that will be interesting enough to make them keep reading. 

How do you approach a first scene? How important is what happened before the story began?


  1. I've heard that it is sometimes helpful to start 2/3 of the way through the story (before writing the opening scene).

    O for Olive Oatman

  2. I LOVE this opening line!
    I struggle with this - a lot.
    This past week, however, my critique group helped me flesh out the opening line - using the words I wrote, just in a different order. It made ALL the difference!

  3. That's a good first line. It gives just enough mischief and information to make you wonder about the character.

  4. I write space opera romance so my first scene is always tense and often action oriented where the protagonists meet in a dangerous situation. Now in my WIP, I just deleted everything after the first scene. LOL.

    Susan Says

  5. Love that opening line!

    I generally don't start a WIP with the opening scene. I start somewhere else later in the novel, and wait for an opening scene idea to reveal itself. Then I rewrite it multiple times.

  6. I've had so many different opening scenes. I think I've finally pinned down the right one. My very first did have a lot of exposition, too, and it just wasn't needed in the end.