by Bb

Question: I am trying to write an opening for my story. I have two very different versions going and cannot decide which one is better. One starts with the appearance of a woman who spots a wanted poster that is pinned down by a knife in front of her house. Another version begins with a group of police. A ship came to the town and the policemen are making a scene while posting the wanted poster. I try to give a vibe of mystery and suspense in my first version of the opening while I use lots noise and tension building for my second version of the opening.

Now my question is which opening usually draws the reader more? An opening with action and noise or an opening without much actions but that fills the air with suspense?

In addition, do you want to introduce many impact characters very swiftly in your opening or focus on only a few ?


Answer: I had to edit your question a little, so forgive me if I misread anything.

First, what matters about the opening scene is that it presents an irreversible change that has meaning and significance for the characters (especially the main character) and that it gives them new purposes. It launches them on the journey, so to speak.

It really doesn't matter whether the scene is loud or subdued. What matters is that it prompts an important
response from the characters. Does finding the wanted poster provoke an important decision or reaction from the woman? What is the scene with the policemen about? What happens because of it? It is the reaction, the change, that is the core of the scene. And that's what hooks the reader, because the reader wants to know what this change will lead to.

I can't tell you which scene is better, because only you know what happens next as a result. The opening scene should be the beginning of one of the four throughlines of the story - either the overall plot, the main character's arc, the impact character's arc, or the arc of their relationship.

As for your second question, most stories only have one impact character. The reason is that the main character generally has only one dilemma he/she is facing. The main character must decide whether to try to solve the story problem in his usual way or use a different approach. The impact character gives an example of someone who uses a different approach.

Of course, there will be many characters in the novel, but generally only one will be the impact character.

(The exception is if the main character has no established way of approaching problems, in which case you can provide two impact characters with opposite approaches that the main character must choose between. But this is not the norm for stories.)

Best of luck.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.