How to write the best opening scene?

How much action is too much?

Writing action in a story isn’t always easy.

At least not for me. Because I’m currently struggling with this very thing. The first couple of chapters have to be right or I can’t move on. I go back and forth trying to get that balance just right.

Writing the balance between action and story in those first few chapters is crucial to hooking a reader. Too much action and I risk exhaustion, too little and I may bore the reader to death.

So where does a story really begin?

I recently read a great article about starting at the true beginning of a story.

“When you are looking for your story’s true beginning, look for the first event that changed your character’s path.” 

Ms. Keller reminds us that we need to connect dots with a change to move our story forward.

Great advice for this writer.

So, seems I need to find the catalyst that changed things for my protagonist and start there. Link events with other changes to propel the story forward. Hmmm. This may be doable.

After I read her article a couple more times or maybe six, maybe I’ll get it. LOL

Click on the link to Ms. Keller’s post below and see what you think.

Opening Action: how to make it work By M.L. Keller

Are her tips helpful to find the true beginning of your story?

Do you think it’s important to write action in the beginning?

Are you guilty of writing too much back story too soon?

Got any tips for writing a terrific first chapter?

Please share your thoughts!

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17 thoughts on “How to write the best opening scene?

  1. Openings are always tough. Have I given the reader enough background about the character? Have I given too much? Does the action come on too strong? Not strong enough?

    It’s probably the part of the book I rewrite the most. And probably the part that ages me the most. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jean, I certainly think your advice is sound, pinpointing the first event that changed the protagonist’s life as a way to begin. However, one of my memoir’s beta readers suggested I start with a climactic event near the end of my story (reveal just a part of the chapter) and then use the conclusion of this opening story as a “bookend” near the end of the book as a way to improve the narrative arc.

    Overall, I don’t think there is one right way to have a story unfold. Writers must adapt to the “shape” of the story, if that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The first sentence, I find, is always the hardest part because even if you know what you’re going to say, you always have to make sure that it is coherent with the rest of the words in the chapter. The best way to do it, is to have it in mind before you start the story because even if you don’t know what is going t follow on from it, it can give you some idea of what direction you want at least the first chapter to go in.

    Liked by 1 person

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