Monday, May 4, 2009

Get to the Point!

“...the best short story openings point straight at the conflict.” -- Scott T. Barnes in Writing Questions: Strong Openings, posted on odysseyworkshop.
I spend more time on my opening than any other part of the story. The ending may be weak and the middle sag :), but the opening does its part and grabs the reader's attention. In my case, “the opening” of a short story is the first sentence or paragraph. I want to set the hook as soon as possible. I remember one story where I purposely held off any hint of a problem until the second paragraph, but I changed my mind in a later draft. I didn't feel comfortable waiting that long.

I critiqued a story recently that had a wonderful opening paragraph. Unfortunately, it was preceded by a much weaker one. Hopefully, the author decided to switch them. Some unpublished stories I read take forever to get to the point. The reader may be half way through the tale before finding out what problem the main character faces. I remember one story in which the author waited until the LAST paragraph to put the main character in jeopardy. Most readers would have given up long before then.

No comments: