THE GATEWAY To a GREAT OPENING SCENE (hopefully?)

So, I’m trying to write my opening scene here and it’s just so soul-shattering. I got this idea that if I trolled through a bunch of good ones, I’d come out with some tips, but doing all that alone is boring.
So, is there anyone with the same problem? Want to go through some opening scenes with me? What’s your favourite one? Can we break it down to see what makes it tick?

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Hi there! :wave:

We’re moving this thread to #writing-improvement, because we want to make sure your thread is in the best place on the forums.

Thanks!

Oh, that’s totally fine. Thanks.

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I like this idea! I´m a bit busy right now, but once I´m free I´ll be back! ^^

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sure, that would be great!

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My advice would be to create an opening scene that has the most conflict you can manage already rolling in it, with as little explanatory exposition as possible, and then use that as a springboard for a shorter work.

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I love the opening scene of The Prophecy of the Sorceress Three by diwatera: https://www.wattpad.com/834877442-the-prophecy-of-the-sorceress-three-1-harvest-day

It starts out with a very personal and individual conflict that is solely directed at the main character. We get a strong sense of the character’s personality and self-worth right out of the gate. We also get to see her relationship with her sisters (which becomes the focal point of the story) as well as what makes her angry and the consequences of that anger. In the same chapter we see a strength, a flaw, a relationship, and a pivotal event to kick off the story, which to me ticks all the major goals for a first scene!

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Alright, so I thought before we start exploring some of those very good opening scenes, we’d decide what we already know on what makes a good opening scene. Or something that you see in an opening scene that makes you want to read further.

To me, what makes me want to read more is something unique. As well as:

  • Conflict
  • Something that is unique to the story, world, or character that grabs the reader’s attention. Something, unusual, weird, mysterious, it keeps your readers reading further.
    -Action

And what to avoid:

  • Info-dumping
  • Pointless descriptions and thoughts (although it’s not completely wrong, as you still do see it in many books)

Any thing you’d like to add?

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Here are some opening scenes of books (on Wattpad) that I’ve read, that caught my eye:


From chapter one of Winter Falls by iamsharlock:

It wouldn’t have been less obvious if Alex, one of the people who worked at the Starbucks shop in New York’s Forrest Street, had just written 'Reserved For Julia Hart Every Thursday Evening with bold, black permanent marker at the table she was sitting at. It was almost as if the table was hers every week, this day, this time.

This paragraph catches my attention, as well as sums up this story so perfectly. We learn later on through this paragraph and the later ones, about her character and her seat at Starbucks which starts off the romance essentially between the two protagonists.

What makes a good opening scene: introduces something unique


From Chapter one of Straighter Then Parallel Parking by sarena_a:

WALKING INTO HER LIVING ROOM FROM HER LONG DAY AT SCHOOL, there are two things that instantly hit Janice, almost knocking her off her feet. One would be the potent mixture of body odour, heinous sweat, take-out from three different fast-food restaurants, and teenage boys; a stench that she’s become familiar with, she has become immune to, aside from the initial wrinkle of her nose.
However, the second thing that takes her mind to register the minute after she steps into the door frame, happens to be the speeding ball hurdling at her face.
“Holy crap!”

This has got to be one of my favourite books on Wattpad, and this scene was just an example of the amazing writing this book has. We’re introduced to one of the main themes in this book (the MC’s family) and the added action of having a soccer ball thrown at her face, keeps the readers engaged.

What makes a good opening scene: introduces main themes + character (even just briefly) of the book


From Storm and Silence by RobThier:

The young man’s reflection glared back at me out of the shop window, suspicion etched into his roundish face. He probably thought I was doubting whether he looked manly enough, and, to be honest, I was.
“Come on,” I muttered, morosely. “Manliness, manliness…give me some manliness!”
I turned sideways and he turned with me, thrusting his chest out at the exact same moment I did. It looked flat as a board, betraying not a hint of femininity, so that, at least, was not going to be a problem.

This excerpt from the opening scene of a very famous book on Wattpad is absolutely captivating. We start off wondering who is this man the MC is looking at…and why is he not manly enough? Then, we realize this man is the reflection of our female MC. Intrigued? Certainly!

What makes a good opening scene: keep your readers intrigued (and guessing for more!)


From chapter one of L’ange de la Mort by poznati:

WAITING WAS BY FAR THE EASIEST PART OF BEING AN ASSASIN. The death is easy–a few wet gasps of air, a few breathless words, and then silence. The escape was harder, maneuvering down rough stone walls and through dark forests, heartbeats quickened and palms slick with sweat. As Gabriel hides behind the plush curtains, however, he doesn’t think of what Henri de Froix’s last words might be, or the swiftest way to disappear into the night. He simply waits, grasping onto the last few seconds he has left of pretending he’s a man and not a killer.

This opening scene is another absolute favourite of mine! The writing style is amazing. Grammar, flawless. And what part about murder is not intriguing? :wink:

What makes a good opening scene: A great writing style.


These are just some of the great opening scenes on Wattpad. If you have any, please share!

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I just had a look, and i totally agree! What an interesting start! And I mean it has potatoes, what’s not to love? :joy:

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So, what I just did with all the opening scenes y’all just gave was that I compiled I list of similarities and quirks.

Similarities;

  1. All of them, (apart from Parallel Parking) have some kind of goal. Like Lilly wants to vote, Gabriel wants to find…something about his…dead…sister? And Mal just wants to wear a skirt without being told what to do (even though he’s a boy and people are resistant to it coz people are cabbages). So, maybe the key to a great opening scene is, like, exploring a problem. And it would be better if the problem was the problem like the thematic problem your book would end up exploring? Death, Identity, suffragism, and…you know?

  2. (At least the ones that really hit me) The opening line was short, (apart from storm and silence)and it immediately made me ask a question. Why is she going for manliness? Why wouldn’t it be OK to walk around with a skirt? Who’s the assassin? Who’s being assasinated?

Quirks;
Funnily enough, I couldn’t find that much in the way of quirks! Like all the opening chapters seem to revolve around theme and character which is so cool! Maybe quirk-wise…

  1. The Prophecy of three made ‘Info-dumps’ work. I’ve read it like twice, trying to figure out how they put this information in a memorable way, without going through like ten-thousand backdoors and all I saw was that the information was really interesting to begin with, they put some anticipation with ‘dreaded’ and it was in first person. Funnily enough, I’ve come to notice that if the book is in first person, then info-dumps stop becoming all that boring.

  2. L’ange de la mort is written in present tense, which really makes the action pace of the first chapter that much more punchy.

Did anyone else see anything of note?

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One thing I read somewhere was,

Write a chapter, then cut off the first paragraph.
I don’t know if this works, I haven’t tried it.

What works for me is, I write an entire book; then go back to my 1st chapter and completely rewrite it. You would be surprised by how much that can help. Your chapter is going to be times better because by the time you’ve finished the story, you know yourself what the beat and best opening scene could be.

Hope this helped
:heart:

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Thank you so much! Could it also work with plotting? Like, the better you plot your book, then the easier your first chapter becomes to write?

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Yes!!

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Plotting is great. But I personally think that rewriting the first chapter is essential nevertheless.

But the benefit of plotting is, you already know what is going to happen in your book from first to last. Every single thing. In that case, writing the first chapter is much easier and the first chapter can be quite good.

But, beware of plotting. I wrote an entire book, plotted, to end the Female MC with a man; but it so happened that they just couldn’t fall in love and the MC ended up with another guy instead.

So, plotting can be decisive.

But that entirely depends on what kind of writer you are. If you are a total planner, then, your 1st chap will probably be great

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:joy: were you surprised?

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Ofc :laughing:

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My first crack at writing was sort of a vomit draft. I wrote everything down and the whole thing arose organically without any planning whatsoever.

Then I went to the editing process with the first draft as a guide.

And the opening chapter said…‘no’

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Mine was like vomit and diarrhoea and dysentery and nasal mucus and sputum and pus combined.

I never edited my first book. I never tried making it work. Because I know it wouldn’t :laughing:

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Get back to it! You never know! I’m currently in the process of editing my ‘vomit draft’ and it becomes really easy once you have some foundation.

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