Opening paragraph (93 words)

sozme

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2013
Messages
195
#1
Rando opening to some urban fantasy. Would you keep reading?
##########################


Until the kidnappings started, I never worked a job for free.

My charity work began one morning in the Undercroft, my cozy apartment-office beneath an establishment called the Coliseum. The Coliseum is a classy place where, on any given night, a dozen slaves murder each other for public amusement. Now you might think that flavor of recreation would limit the clientele of a humanitarian gumshoe. And you’d be correct. Murder Row typically attracts only the classiest sort of customer. And by classiest, I mean richest.

But my newest client was an anomaly.
 

Stable

Watching you from upside down
Joined
Oct 7, 2016
Messages
206
#3
Vaguely reminds me of an undead-noir-detective setup I read once on a wannabe netflix for books service. Can't remember the name of the series but it was good fun.

By which I mean, sure! I'm interested so far.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
20,988
Location
Highlands
#4
I don't know if it's personal taste, but I'd like to see the opening sentence put together in reverse:

I never worked a job for free until the kidnappings started .
as to me that gives it more punch.

The following paragraph is something of an infodump - you're trying to explain the setting - so why not simply jump us into the immediate situation and sprinkle that detail into it?
 

CTRandall

I have my very own plant pot!
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
237
Location
North-east England
#5
I'm uncertain. There's enough that I would read further but there are a couple of things making me waver. First, as Brian noted, is the info dump. It's not too bad yet but much more and I'd be put off. My second issue is style, namely sentences like, "Now you might think that flavor of recreation would limit the clientele of a humanitarian gumshoe." This took a little bit of time for my little bit of brain to chew over. Much more of that and, again, I'd be put off.

That said, I'm going to contradict myself. I get what you're doing with the style and it can be a great way to set the tone and character of your story. Just be careful that it doesn't get in the way of readability. (I make this mistake myself all too often.)

So, if it continues with story (not info) and the style is reader-friendly (not overworked, over-adjectived), then you're doing fine.
 

sozme

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2013
Messages
195
#6
Meh the more I read it, the more I hate it. These openings are just a huge pain to write, and I always spend 20 times more on them vs. every other part of the story.
 

HareBrain

Bunny of Wonder
Staff member
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
9,343
Location
West Sussex, UK
#7
Openings are horribly difficult to get right. The only thing worse is a synopsis.

Here's why it doesn't work for me.

The opening line doesn't tell us anything useful apart from that there will be kidnappings. Well, OK, but that by itself isn't startling enough to justify its own paragraph.

The first line of the main paragraph is good. But when that's followed by "The Coliseum is", I'm instantly on high alert for info-dump, because I haven't read enough to trust you as an author yet. And when the narrator starts talking to me, which I'm not expecting (because if you're going to have a narrator who addresses the reader it's usually shown in the first line) I'm a bit thrown. Most of the first paragraph seems to be delaying before we get to anything happening. It's only the following one-liner that shows anything is about to.

That's very brutal, sorry. But your last post makes me think you might not mind.
 

Penny

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2018
Messages
169
#8
Yeah, as one who has recently struggled with my intro as well. you can actually get away with this amount of infodump. but it puts all the weight of action on paragraph 2.
You should only infodump vitally important information on the first couple of pages.

Wherever you info dump, the reader is absorbing information, the reader is not taking part in the flow of the story, its like a waterslide or rollercoaster. you speed rapidly about and you might come to a slow flat section and then woosh your off again.
Infodumping is good to give your reader a place to rest and take stock of what has happened. Infodumps can be large or small but It seems that if you are going to infodump it works better if you make sure it is in some way related directly to what is happening to the character. here, you are not making the information relate to the character. it is all about the location.
By making the infodump personally relevant it is easier to digest and flows better.

Your paragraph (below) I broke it up into its various components by color to be helpful.

Until the kidnappings started, I never worked a job for free.

My charity work began one morning in the Undercroft, my cozy apartment-office beneath an establishment called the Coliseum. The Coliseum is a classy place where, on any given night, a dozen slaves murder each other for public amusement. Now you might think that flavor of recreation would limit the clientele of a humanitarian gumshoe. And you’d be correct. Murder Row typically attracts only the classiest sort of customer. And by classiest, I mean richest.

But my newest client was an anomaly.



ORANGE - The actual story

Bluuuue - personal information about main character
REEEED - Flavor only
LGreeen - Talking to the reader! - more flavor!

You have 3 small statements which are your actual story, you have a little bit of information about the character, and a big slab of flavour/infodump.
Looking at it visually this way helps me and I have been doing it to help me work out my own stuff.
Breaking it up helps figure out how you might be structuring it. I only use a couple of colors, obviously its more complex than what I have done but just doing it quick to show you a method I use.

Here to help, I love the idea as well.
 
Last edited:

Lafayette

Man of Artistic Fingers
Joined
Jun 14, 2016
Messages
264
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
#9
Even though I'm confused on the time frame (is it ancient Rome or 2121 New York?) I like it and the info dump. I think the confusion may be its selling point for it arouses curiosity. My curiosity may make me buy the book and I'm a mystery fan. There is one thing you might try to add to your info dump and that is the name of the narrator.
 

tinkerdan

candycane shrimp
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
3,569
Location
They can't find me.
#10
A lot depends on where you are in the process::
Meh the more I read it, the more I hate it. These openings are just a huge pain to write, and I always spend 20 times more on them vs. every other part of the story.
:: When I start a story I have to find an intro that will interest me in completing the work and I've found that it often is not as dynamic as what people say they want in an opening paragraph. However at that stage I'm trying to motivate me and not sell the story.(Or: selling the story to myself is a lot easier than selling it to anyone else.)

Once you are finished with the story, you can go back and start playing with the best place to start the story.

This can be agonizing, once you find out it starts several pages after the place that motivated you to begin with.

That much said::
There is not enough in your opening to tell me anything helpful on a number of questions that arise.

Was it really the start of the kidnapping that resulted in working free? If so what was so unique about these kidnappings that made that so?

What was so unique about the client? If it wasn't for kidnapping would they have listened to the potential client at all? Was it the kidnappings or was it the client and the kidnappings or was it the client that prompted this humanitarianism effort?

What is unique about his location?
A place where slaves murder each other sounds a bit seedy and underbelly like in nature to me.
Why do we equate rich and elite to the seedy underbelly of society?
What type of world are you building?

As you can see the little you've written has elicited a number of questions--some may even pertain to the story.

However why withhold the information? And how soon do you pay the reader for his interest by beginning to give validity to certain assumptions the reader may be trying to pump into your story?

Do any of these questions even come close?

Just some things to think about,
or not;
it's up to you.
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2018
Messages
2
#11
I like it, but not hooked. If there is something remarkable about the kidnapping, put that in there. If I can relate somehow to the crime or the victim, then I'm much more interested in the plat.
 

Similar threads

Top