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The Opening - Walter Shillington's Author's Workshop

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Writing Skills

Every writer understands the importance of the opening.  If the reader browses through the first few lines of a book and finds little to attract his attention, he puts it aside and moves on.  

So how should you start your book?  Would background information, designed to bring the reader up to speed, be appropriate?  Could a strong physical description of the lead character, or of the setting, fit the bill?  What about action, dialogue, or even a verse from a poem?  

There is only one rule.  The opening must grab the reader by the throat and drag him into the story.  Background information can work but, unless carefully composed, will be written off as a boring history lesson.  Physical description is fine, provided you keep it short.  Most writers tend to use action and dialogue, combined with crisp, vivid description.

Remember, this is just the opening of a lengthy story.  You will have plenty of time to explain what’s going on, build your characters, and advance the plotline.  Don’t do it here.  Use this space to hook your reader.

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