I’ve read hundreds, no probably thousands of books in my lifetime. No, I will not say how many years I’ve been reading, let’s just say many years and leave it at that. In those years I’ve read some good and some bad books. Not too long ago I came across a gem. As I read the Prologue I was mesmerized by the writer’s ability to bring about the meaning of the book in the first few pages. It helped the story become more alive as I read chapter to chapter.
In researching writing types I’ve often run up on an article either supporting or not supporting prologues in books. For me, it’s a matter of need, not necessity. I do have one book with a prologue but it’s a necessity. The book takes place in the present, but the prologue sets the stage for the book without over stating what the book is about. Of course I could’ve put this information into the dialogue as I went along, but I tried to give it a sense of purpose. Maybe it was a good idea or maybe it wasn’t.
Do you start your first sentence with a cliff hanger? Some do and it can be alright if it’s written in a way that doesn’t give away the storyline right off. You need to leave some mystery in it so that the reader has a reason to go on. If it’s a murder and you start off with “The butler killed her because he knew that he’d never have her,” well enough said. Why go any further if you know the butler did it and you also know why? Of course there are some diehard readers that would keep going to find out how, but for me it would be a done deal.
When we were young most of our reading started with “Once upon a time…” but as a romance author that would be a little cheesy, but only if mishandled. I actually read a really great romance novel that started with exactly those words and it was handled wonderfully.
Every starting sentence needs to have something special. To me this is the hardest part of writing, besides the blurb which you all know I hate that part of writing. For some the first sentence is right there in front of them. It comes with the story as it enters their head. I’ve had that happen a couple of times, but only a couple.
I’ve written the first sentence of one of my current works in progress about five times. Funny how the further I get into the story the less I like the first of the book. Of course this is my first pirate romance so maybe it’s the strain of jumping into another sub category genres. With my cowboys I usually always have the opening line happily cemented in stone by the first couple of chapters, but my pirate has me still looking back even after over 20,000 words.
So, how’s your first line going? Is it all that you want it to be? If not, read it out loud and see how you like it. I usually look back at other writer’s work to see how they started their works and see how it sounds. Keep it simple, but draw in that reader.
As always, good writing and May God Bless You…
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