Opening Sentence

by Marissa
(Ohio)

Question: I have 2 ideas for an opening sentence and I don't know which will be better.


1. Would give some background like saying that 100 years ago there was a war and then saying how it went and what happened then it would really start and be about what's happening now and what's happening now has to do with the war

2. It would be when my character dies and comes back to life and then once that sentence ends it would start before that happened then it would happen at like the end of the first chapter

Which one sounds better to start with because they both are really important pieces of the story?

Answer: The advantage with your second idea is that it focuses on the main character. Depending on how you write it, it may be an opportunity to establish an interesting narrative voice or (if you're writing in first person) establish the main character's persona. Readers generally prefer to connect with an appealing main character in a personal way early on.

The first idea sounds more like a prologue. It's the kind of information you could just as easily present a little later, after the main character has been established. A history lesson, however dramatic, is usually less riveting than a passage that offers a human connection.

Of course, this is just an opinion. There are always creative ways to make almost any idea work. It's not just which idea you choose but how you exercise your chosen idea.

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Opening Sentence

by Marissa
(Cincinnati)

Question: I'm trying to decide between two openings.
1. is where the main character is talking about her being in an accident and what it felt like and then coming back to life
2. the other is sort of the back story because the story is about vampire, evil vampires, other supernatural creatures, and protectors that protect the world from the supernatural but made an alliance with the good vampires so the opening would be about 200 years ago when the war was going on and how it all started and how the came together and thinking they won but then say something at the end like it was actually just beginning and the rest of the story be about them find out there are still bad vampires and then eventually them fighting in a big battle.

so which one should I go with which draws you to the story more? either way all of that will be in there it's just about which will be the opening.

Answer: Your second option sounds like a prologue - particularly because it takes place a long time before the main character's story begins. Some people hate prologues, but in this case it certainly would establish for the reader what the overall plot is going to be about. The alternative might be to fill in the reader later on about these historic events.

As for your first option, you haven't explained much. Is this character a vampire, who doesn't know she's a vampire, and who is surprised that she doesn't die in the accident?

Even if she knows she's a vampire, I think you could use the idea of someone dying and coming back to life to create an interesting first chapter. Obviously, the reader may wonder why she survived, and a little mystery helps draw people in.

Starting with the main character is a more popular choice these days, especially if you can give her an interesting voice and some problems the reader can relate to. It's a little easier to create an interesting voice when you are in the main character's point of view, whereas prologues tend to be more objective.

Bottom line: I suggest you write both the prologue and a first chapter in the main character's voice. Then see if the main character chapter can stand on its own or if it needs the prologue to make sense of the story. You can try showing both versions to some fellow writers and see what they think.

You can always use the prologue material later on, or keep it to yourself but use it to inform the rest of the story.

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