So You Wanna Write Part 7: That Opening Scene
April 16, 2014 10 Comments
That first scrawl of the pen.
That first scene.
You have an idea of what your story will be about. You know who your characters will be and you know what time period it will be set in and where it takes place. Heck, you may even have your premise written out. (We’ll talk more about these subjects in later posts.)
But for now you just want to get started. No more putting it off. You’re writing this book and it starts now!
But how do you start it? Do you open with a dark, mysterious scene? Do you open up with a traumatic scene from your protagonist’s childhood? Do you maybe start with a scene that takes place in the middle of your book that you’ll come back to later?
No matter what you decide to start with, keep this in mind:
It will likely not work. Your opening will probably stink and have no connection to the rest of your book. (Now, there are definitely exceptions to this, I realize.)
Almost every movie I’ve watched the commentary for nearly had a completely different opening.
My book The Man in the Box had so many different openings that my wife said that she didn’t want to read another draft until the book was finished. She actually kept getting the different versions mixed up and could no longer critique it with a fresh eye.
The filmmakers actually had a completely different opening scripted and animated where Mike’s parents drop him off at school. The Pixar guys said they were very happy with the opening, and that it was very funny. But one day during a board meeting someone spoke up and suggested that it would make a much bigger impact if Mike arrived at school by himself, to give the impression that it was him against the world, with no one there to support him.
The point is, as happy as you might be with your opening scene, you’ve got to ask yourself, “Does it do the most service for the rest of my book?” You’ve got to be willing to change it.
Even if you can’t come up with an idea, start writing! You’re going to back and change it anyway.