The rough stone wrapped around the structure like a limestone blanket. There were no windows. Just craggy edged blocks of rock, making the building into a fortress. "There's only one way in," the masked man whispered to his accomplice.
The answer to this question is the pivotal decision you will make when writing a novel. Where do I start? How do I get in to the story? What's the opening to the vault?
Advice will vary on this just as it does on any story structure project. Advice like you need a car chase, gunfight, or bar fight to start off with a bang.Advice like a character who is running, crying, or bleeding. What if your story or character is always in bars, or cries at the drop of a hat? What if it's a police story and you can't find the right car chase, gunfight, or moment where someone bleeds? What if no one in your story does anything criminal or life threatening? Then What?
There are a number of craft books you can purchase about story structure, plotting, and finding the bones of your novel. Most professionals agree on some basics though.
This checklist for first page elements can be found at www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com
K.M. Weiland's postings are a great website for good advice on all things writing.
First Page Checklist
____ Opening Hook: Clever writing and image that grabs the reader
____ Introduction of main character in first few lines
____ Starting the story in the middle of something that’s happened (or happening)
____ A nod to setting; avoid excessive exposition or narrative
____ A catalyst, inciting incident, or complication introduced for your character
____ A hint at character’s immediate intentions
____ A hint at character’s hidden need, desire, goal, dream, fear
____ Unique voice/writing style
____Setting the tone for the entire book
____ A glimpse at character’s personal history, personality—shed light on motivation
____ Introduction of plot goal
____ A course of action/decision implied: introduction of high stakes/dramatic tension
____ Pacing: jump right into present action. No back story
· One characteristic to reveal that makes your character heroic and vulnerable
· One element of mystery, something hinted at that raises curiosity
· One element out of the ordinary, unusual, that makes your book different/stand out
· Concise, catchy dialogue (if in the first scene) that is not boring or predictable
· A way to hint at your theme.
You, the writers, will need to know your setting, character and conflict well enough to be able to find all these elements in the first page of your story. If not ON the first page, then at least hinted at enough to lead your reader to the next page. Hemingway advised authors to take their first 50 pages and condense them down to five. This can be helpful to show not only what you can eliminate as far as back story, but also what you need to keep in order to develop those important points in the check list. Other helpful sites for working writers include: www.,livewritethrive.com, www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method, and www.thewriteshelf.com
So, if you've got a great idea, outline, or series of scenes for your next novel but can't fine the doorway in...
Use the checklist to build the best entry to the vault you can. Before you know it, and after about 50 rewrites-You're in!