How to NOT write a story beginning

To write a heart-clutching page-turner, you can't have cliches and horrible mistakes in there. It's a stated fact in the writing community that the first page of your novel sells the rest of it, and while I believe that a lot more factors are involved, there are some mistakes that you just can't have on your first page.

These are the mistakes you can't afford to make if you want to keep your readers reading. These are cliches that make agents roll their eyes and potential fans slam your book shut. As with creative writing in general, there are no rules, but please think really hard before writing a bad opening. Your novel deserves the best it can possibly get. So do your readers.

  • A dream sequence, hallucination or a flashback
  • Your character waking up
  • Backstory
  • Irrelevant information
  • Introducing your character by telling instead of showing
  • Overall telling instead of showing
  • Having too many characters in the first scene
  • Excessive description
  • The weather
  • The main character being lazy or thinking about something without acting on it
  • Dialogue—though this is a bit complicated....

So how do you know whether or not to write dialogue on the first page? 

Some say that dialogue should be avoided on the first page of your story, but I disagree. Dialogue is one of the fastest ways introduce a character's voice and gives a first impression of their personality, hints at their goal and may also show which character archetype they are. The reason people are so afraid of starting with dialogue is because it really needs to be great, not just good. Great dialogue is very hard to write, and in the beginning of your novel it may be a risk to take.

Remember that these are only my tips. Do what's best for your story no matter what.

Read more writing tips on the Writing page. I have lots of advice and printables (because I just love printables) like worksheets and plot/character/world building charts.

Also now is the perfect time to read my blog post about how to write a good story opener, since I've just told you what not to do. How convenient!

Happy writing!
Love, Em.

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