You’ve all heard the book openings are important, have to hook the reader, you won’t get a second chance, etc. And that’s all true, though I think it’s sometimes overstated a bit, in that I think readers will stick with you for a while, even if a book’s opening doesn’t contain bang-zoom-wow.
In any event, I try to write compelling openings and I’ve gotten more conscious of this (and maybe even better at it) as I’ve gone along in my career. I used to struggle with this. These days, it seems it’s one of the first things that pops into my head when I’m conceptualizing a novel.
At this point, I think my Riptide opening (which you can read here) might be my best (in part because I think the prose is very crisp and evocative, even though there’s not a lot of bang-zoom), though the opening of Shadowbred, which I’m posting as a pdf below, is right there in my mind.
Now, Shadowbred is the first book of The Twilight War, the second trilogy starring Erevis Cale. With this opening, I wanted to do a couple things. First, I wanted to reintroduce the reader to Cale and give some insight into his psychology. Second, I wanted to put a clear marker down that said — This is where Cale’s character arc for this trilogy begins. And finally, I wanted to imply the end of that arc, which is the purpose served by the last sentence in this sample. I also wanted readers to come away with something akin to “Wow, that’s was pretty frickin’ cool.”
Obviously (since I’m not really shy when it comes to self promotion), if you dig this, you’ll dig the Cale stories, and Shadowbred is a fine place to start them (Twilight Falling is the other place). And if you’ve already read them, well, thanks. 🙂
Also, please let me know in the comments which books you’ve read that had really compelling openings, won’t you?