Tips for writing a good introduction to your story?

Discussion in 'The Writer's Corner' started by Syndrome, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. Syndrome

    Syndrome You can change this now in User CP.

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    Cause I hate my opening, I hate it tons. I've written it, re-written it, and still hate it.
    Any tips for a n00b like me?
     
  2. C-Death

    C-Death I love you

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    It all depends on what you're trying to write. Always remember that first impressions last. The very first sentence of your story can totally make or break the experience for the reader.
     
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  3. Ninva

    Ninva Анна Ахматова

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    You know, I have similar issues. Introductions are things writers have been struggling with for years. Books have been written on how to write a good introduction. I've even learned a language to better understand introductions.

    A good introduction is rare. I find that usage of poetic language works really, really well. Read On the Souls of Black Folk, and you find perhaps the best examples of introductions for each chapter. However do not mimic this style. Use it as an inspiration.
     
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  4. Fatmankev

    Fatmankev Chef, Writer, and Midnight Toker

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    I've always preferred an intro that puts the reader right into the story from the get-go. Whether it's a conversation, a battle, something out of the ordinary that could pique the reader's interest or whatever you could think of, I like to get right down to it. Lengthy descriptions hurt, excessive visuals hurt, and boring, humdrum everyday events are just that - boring. Beyond that, I don't know what advice I can really offer without more information.

    Hope it's going well aside from that.
     
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  5. DM Cross

    DM Cross You want to see a magic trick? Staff Member

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    I remember when Corruption's intro started with the main character's alarm going off. A friend told me how incredibly dull it was and that it prevented her from reading past the first few pages.

    I rewrote it to begin with a nightmare where the same character dreamed a monster was going to kill and eat her...

    Friend loved it, never started a story any differently (always action, not always a nightmare)

    My two cents...
     
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  6. Syndrome

    Syndrome You can change this now in User CP.

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    Bleghhsoihjaopfjo jgoaj oijoj
    I've tried reading a few other fantasy novels and tried to get an idea of how they started their stories, but I'm just not quite getting it I don't think.

    This is my latest [but not last] version of the intro, it's not as polished as I would like but I have the idea down. Is this too long/too boring/too whatever?

    =========

    The door chimes jingled signaling the arrival of hopefully just another normal customer, but I knew better as soon as static started fraying my headphones up. I had only given the approaching figure a sweeping glance before confirming her as a Customer. So I did what I always did in preparation for her kind, casually lean forward on the desk while grasping a small iron nail in my concealed hand.

    Let me explain, here in The Mind’s Eye we get two kinds of customers. The first type is the totally normal everyday man or woman who comes here in search for a place with a large collection of fantasy novels up for purchase. Those people are here to immerse themselves in worlds filled with dragons, magic, and adventure from a cozy place with little distractions.

    Then we have what I like to call Customers. With the capital C.

    You see, sometimes I get people coming up to me asking for someone to revive their dead cats, or to commune with some great-great-whatever ancestor from the past, or to peruse some books containing instructions to conjure up something from the N-th dimension. I usually stop listening about a sentence in whenever I figure these people are here to talk to the great Taios Stard.

    That’s not me by the way. I’m just a totally normal teenager with a crazy ass high tuition that needs to be paid else I get kicked from my university. I am also in dire need for a new job, so if you just know anyone please please drop by and tell me where to apply because for even $166.70 a day this job is totally not worth it. Trust me, if your occupational hazards contain death by fire, lasers, zombies, mind rape, implosion, whatever, you do not want to be doing whatever you are doing.

    I have a sneaking suspicion Taios is secretly sabotaging my attempts to find a new job, because none of the other potential employers have ever returned my calls or my letters.

    In any case, about the iron nail. Magic exists. Shocker. Turns out, if you look deep enough in society you’ll see hints of its community absolutely everywhere. Especially on doorways, look for a signal made up of a circle encompassing a square encompassing a triangle. If you see one you know that the restaurant or shopping center you’re looking at recognizes the ‘Accord’ and has special accommodations for those special Customers. Magic and technology has always been opposite sides of the same coin; you can have one but not the other. Conjure up a thunderbolt and every electronic gadget in the vicinity turns into a useless hunk of junk for a while, holding a piece of pure iron up to said thunderbolt will pretty much force it to fall apart. Iron is sort of the anti-thesis to magic.

    With aforementioned iron nail firmly in my hands, I took the moment to look over the young woman approaching my front desk. The most striking part of her that practically screamed “Customer” was that she was utterly blind. Her eyes were perpetually closed and she was walking with one of those sticks that the blind use to get around. A blind person? In a bookstore? Yep, totally not suspicious at all. The second dead giveaway was her clothes. No one wears tattered emerald robes with golden accents in the last forever, and with the large leather book that hung from her waist by a chain the whole outfit was totally and utterly out of place in the twenty first century. It was rather striking though, I’ll admit.

    Oculus Mentis.

    I was looking over her silvery blonde shoulder-length hair when she suddenly opened her pale, cloudy eyes that briefly shone a deep green before reverting back to their pale-blue color. I stared back into her dead eyes as I felt an itch and a slight irritation in the hand encompassing the nail.

    You will take me to Taios Stard.” I felt the compulsion slam into my head but with the nail in hand I boxed it up and shipped it someplace far away where I wouldn’t have to worry about it. Already I could feel my head churning out hundreds of different possibilities as to who this woman was. She looked, well, more like turned her head towards me with her eyes closed expectantly.

    I figured playing along wouldn’t hurt. Hopefully.
     
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  7. Fatmankev

    Fatmankev Chef, Writer, and Midnight Toker

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    Read it. Edited it. Here it is, if you're interested.
    The door chimes jingled signaling the arrival of hopefully just another normal customer, but I knew better as soon as static started fraying my headphones up. I had only given the approaching figure a sweeping glance before confirming her as a Customer. So I did what I always did in preparation for her kind, casually lean forward on the desk while grasping a small iron nail in my concealed hand.

    [This is worded kind of strangely, the first sentence especially. This is important to get fixed, as it’s your very first line. I’d suggest breaking it down into at least two sentences and taking out any words that aren’t necessary to the story, rewording accordingly. Also, the difference between the customer and the Customer is not so apparent until further in the story. Try adding something like, “Not a customer. A Customer,” or some such, as it would certainly clarify things a bit. Last sentence is really wordy, too; the first part of the sentence is almost unnecessary, and I think you need to emphasize that the nail is ‘pure’ iron. A small, iron nail to me is something you’d use to hammer something together, and those are a far cry from pure. Still, regardless of the issues, it gets you ready to find stuff out. I’m interested.]

    Let me explain[;] here in The Mind’s Eye[,] we get two kinds of customers. The first [] is the totally normal[,] everyday man or woman who comes [] in search [of] a place with a large collection of fantasy novels []. Those people are here to immerse themselves in worlds filled with dragons, magic, and adventure from a cozy place with [few] distractions.

    [Pretty good here, paints a good picture. Fixed a few grammatical issues, replaced a couple words to improve flow and took out quite a few more for the same reason. Any space with a ‘[]’ is where I’ve removed unnecessary words.]

    Then we have what I like to call Customers. With [a] capital C.

    [I liked it. Hats off.]

    You see, sometimes I get people coming up to me asking for someone to revive their dead cats, [] to commune with some great-great-whatever ancestor from the past[] or to peruse some books containing instructions to conjure up something from the N-th dimension. I usually stop listening about a sentence in [when] I figure [they] are here to talk to the great Taios Stard.

    [All pretty good except for one issue I have; every one of those things sounds like something a very eccentric ‘normal’ customer would ask about, not necessarily just magical people. May want to try to come up with some more unique examples where it leaves the reader surer that these are the ‘Customers’ you’re referring to and you’re not just going on about the stranger ‘normal’ customers. That’s how I took it, my first go around, and didn’t realize my mistake ‘til I came back through to edit it.]

    That’s not me[,] by the way.[Maybe instead, “I’m not that guy, by the way.” But your version works all the same.] I’m just a totally normal teenager with a crazy [] high tuition[, and I get kicked out if I don’t get paid.]I am also in dire need [of] a new job, so if you [] know anyone please[,]
    please drop by and tell me where to apply because [even for] $166.70 a day[,] this job is totally not worth it. Trust me, if your occupational hazards [include] death by fire, lasers, zombies, mind rape, implosion, whatever, you do not want to be doing whatever you are doing.
    [Changed a couple things around, but that’s all up to you. Doesn’t necessarily need to be fixed, it just reads better that way to me. I think writing an exact amount for how much he earns is sort of too much; I think the effect would come off better if you just describe it as being a lot. The last sentence was really good. You get a good read on the narrator’s voice, ‘mind rape’ made me grin as I read it, and it just seems to fit really well.]

    I have a sneaking suspicion Taios is [] sabotaging my attempts to find a new job, because [‘I haven’t gotten any calls back’].

    [The second half of that sentence is definitely over-worded. Don’t feel obligated to use my example, but try to cut it down a bit if you can. Also, I was totally ready for something like, ‘He blames the economy,’ or something along those lines to follow that. But that’s just what I was expecting, is all. Funny little bit all the same.]

    In any case, about the iron nail. Magic exists. Shocker. Turns out, if you look deep enough in society you’ll see hints of its community absolutely everywhere. Especially on doorways, look for a signal made up of a circle encompassing a square encompassing a triangle. If you see one[,] you know that the restaurant or shopping center you’re looking at recognizes the ‘Accord’ and has special accommodations for those special Customers. Magic and technology [have] always been opposite sides [to] the same coin; you can have one but not the other. Conjure up a thunderbolt and every electronic gadget in the vicinity turns into a useless hunk of junk for a while, holding a piece of pure iron up to said thunderbolt will pretty much force it [] apart. Iron is sort of the anti-thesis to magic.

    [Pretty good one, here. Might try to cut it down a bit, but most of what you’ve got is relevant to the narrator’s voice and the points you’re trying to get across, so it’s not really needed. I like the idea behind the iron nail a lot, it’s cool that it can negate magic. That means an iron house = a safe house, both from magic and from tech. Also, I’ve always liked the whole battle of magic vs. technology, so that hooks me in a little deeper.]

    With aforementioned iron nail firmly in my hands, I took the moment to look over the young woman approaching [the] front desk. The most striking part of her that practically screamed “Customer” was that she was utterly blind. Her eyes were perpetually closed and she was walking with one of those sticks that the blind use to get around. A blind person? In a bookstore? Yep, totally not suspicious at all. The second dead giveaway was her clothes. No one wears tattered emerald robes with golden accents in the last forever, and with the large leather book that hung from her waist by a chain the whole outfit was totally and utterly out of place in the twenty first century. It was rather striking though, I[] admit.


    Oculus Mentis.

    I was looking over her silvery blonde shoulder-length hair when she suddenly opened her pale, cloudy eyes that briefly shone a deep green before reverting back to their pale-blue color. I stared back into her dead eyes [and] felt an itch[,] a slight irritation[,] in the hand encompassing the nail.

    [I’ll be honest, I wasn’t digging the description. Felt too… listy? I don’t know anything about this woman really, and I honestly don’t much care about how she looks, at least not in that sort of detail. She’s blind, that’s important to know. You could describe the eccentricity of her dress, referencing how it’s out of place in today’s world, but the hair and the book can get noticed later; the book, maybe by the jangling of the chain as they walk to Taios, and her hair maybe because she insists on walking in front of him as if he’s not fit to lead the way. That way, you don’t have to bunch it all together, and we’ll slowly build a better mental picture of her. Just something to consider.
    On the other hand, the bit with the blind broad in a bookstore was pretty hilarious and the itch in the nail-hand was a nice touch. Make sure to replace ‘perpetually’ because she opens her eyes in the next paragraph, effectively rendering it incorrect. Several other words can be used to replace it.]

    You will take me to Taios Stard.” I felt the compulsion slam into my head[,] but with the nail in hand I boxed it up and shipped it [off] someplace far away []. Already I could feel my head churning out hundreds of different possibilities as to who this woman was. [She looked at me expectantly, or she would’ve been if her eyes weren’t pressed shut.]

    [Shortened up his thoughts, as the last bit just ran too long. Messed with the last sentence to make it sound better to me, but if you like how you’ve got it then keep it. This paragraph definitely adds to her air of mystery.]

    I figured playing along [couldn’t] hurt. Hopefully.

    [Just “wouldn’t” to “couldn’t” changed here. Fun, enticing ending there. I’m ready to see where it’s going.
    Interesting little world set up with a seemingly ordinary main character/narrator who’s bound to be thrust into a whole world of insanity. I could definitely see you going somewhere with it if you’ve got somewhere to go. Thanks for the read, and sorry if I was being too critical. I did enjoy it though – that’s the only reason I took the time out to write all this. Thanks!]
     
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  8. Syndrome

    Syndrome You can change this now in User CP.

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    Awesome! Thank you so much. Gonna have to revise a bit. It's the short story I was working on for a while, but it's not quite short anymore. Didn't even realize I broke the 30k word barrier. I haven't done that. Ever.

    Bahhhh. I have a problem of telling too much rather than showing bits and pieces every so often, something you seem to be very good with from your other stories haha.

    I'll probably post a few more blips here and there. Glad to see someone liked it xD
     
  9. Fatmankev

    Fatmankev Chef, Writer, and Midnight Toker

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    Cool cool, lookin' forward to it. Awesome to see you're so far along, I've only made it past that point twice =P

    I have the same problem as you, and so does every other writer. Anywhere, as far as I can tell. Just write how you want to write, and be ready to cut up to 50% of everything you've written (although rarely ever that dramatic) to cleaning it up all nice and pretty so that everything is actually relevant.

    Again, lookin' forward to seein' more. I'll be a-waitin'.
     

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