Writing A Powerful Book Opening – Ep 06, The Writers’ Podcast

Every writer knows that their first chapter can make or break their story. You simply never get a second chance to make a first impression. So in this episode, we discuss the ingredients that make for a powerful book opening.

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9 comments

  1. What is interesting about this is genre really matters a bit for this. Although all points really are retained. I guess some can just take it a bit slower, say epic fantasy. But another great podcast guys.

    I have this weird thing where beginnings are something that comes easily. I am not one of the ‘scared of the blank page people’. It is getting to a good place and worrying I am going to mess it up that keeps me awake. I think this is because I focus so much on character, versus, setting or plot. When I sit down, the beginnings come quick and tend to stay unchanged for the most part.

    I have to say I am bit of an Epic Fantasy nerd and one of my all time favorite opening lines is from Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind. “It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence and is was a silence of three parts.” He then goes on to write one of the best prologues ever.

    As far as humor. Two people come to mind as masters of it. Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.

    Beginnings start it all and the rest of the book may be the best thing since the slicing of the bread, but if they are bored two pages in, who cares?

    Can’t wait for the next one guys. I have come to look forward to these. Even when I am too busy to leave a comment.

    1. Exactly, we agree it depends on the genre. And fantasy is one of those that greatly benefit from world building. Either way, as we always say, only the author knows how their story should begin . . . just make sure it also works for the reader. No pressure LOL

      So your beginnings come easily? Whatever. 😛 We figured if we were going to host a contest on the first chapter, we should have a podcast about beginnings . . . we might have gotten sidetracked with the cold meds and the shots, but given your detailed comment, some of our points came across seamlessly LOL

      Thanks for listening!

  2. I loved the “best beginnings” excerpts you both read, and I’ve read most of them (though I’ve seen to movie of The Martian and haven’t—yet—read the book). But hearing the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from The Simpsons . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no_elVGGgW8

    I am, of course, one of those people who not only reads the prologue but also reads the front matter and the acknowledgements. I can’t help myself. But with that said, I will add that most prologues should not even exist, as some authors use them as an info dump to “explain” things they’re too . . . lazy? unskilled? confused? to place in the story in a more complex way.

    1. Yes, most prologues are used as an info dump spot, but . . . some first chapters also suffer that fate lol Which is why any and all beginnings really should be thought over carefully. As we said though, not all prologues should suffer because the majority of them are poorly executed, some are done with skill and great storytelling.

      And I’m not surprised you read every line in those books, actually. Seems fitting to the Lynda Dietz we know, who must understand everything about the book and author LOL

  3. Is it me or do you put twinkly piano music on the pod cast? if so could you take it off 🙂 very distracting when I’m trying to follow what you’re saying! Love it otherwise …

    1. Yes, our darn sound engineer (who is me lol) had the volume up a bit too much on that track. The reason it’s there at all is that the studio doesn’t have professional sound proofing and the music track acts as a bit of white noise. Even in Adobe Audition you just can’t get the sound quality perfect.

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