Or half of one.
A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile, writer and former literary agent Noah Lukeman claims that the amount of time you have to grab your reader's attention -- including that of an agent or editor -- is, you guessed it, five pages.
Lukeman may've been a bit generous in this; other testimonies I've heard put the number closer to one page.
Next: Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 4 Explanatory Notes for Act 5, Scene 3 From r-bridal.com Thomas Marc Parrott. New York: American Book Co. (Line numbers have been altered.) _____ Macbeth, who has been absent from the stage for some time, reappears in this scene. The latest happenings in Tulsa entertainment, including the local music scene, movies, television, and the arts. Most of Shakespeare’s openings set the scene in some way. They contain the seeds of what is going to happen later in the play. They do this in such a way as to capture the audience’s attention and interest.
Or half of one. Whatever the actual number, and no matter how intimidating it ends up being, the message is undeniable: Your story has to start with a strong opening scene.
And despite the fact that all of us will be writing very different novels, on varied subjects and in divergent styles, there are a number of components that all good opening scenes have in common.
A good opening scene has four key components. It has a compelling hook. A hook is an opening line that entices the reader into your story by 1 beginning in a clear moment of action or interaction and 2 serving as a tease, revealing just enough information to ground the reader in the moment while maintaining enough mystery -- through the careful omission of certain information -- to keep her reading.
By moment of action, I don't mean that you begin with a bomb ticking, or someone running for his life, or a massive explosion. Rather it means that you avoid synopsis, stage direction, and backstory by dropping us directly into a scene in progress so that we're in the midst of the action, or in medias res.
Such a direct opening can be particularly difficult for the meticulous writer, who's thought so much about her protagonist and his backstory that she's not really sure where to begin.
Likewise, the tease of a compelling hook is not about intentionally hiding things from the reader, making it difficult for her to figure out what's going on.
Inexperienced writers often confuse abstraction for mystery, and they'll believe that an interesting opening scene is one where the reader has no clue what's going on and has to figure it out for himself, as when the reader is dropped into the middle of a dream, or a drug trip, or a riot, or the ocean, or whatever.
Who's talki -- wait, something was touching her now -- Is that a voice she heard? And what was touching her on the leg?
And is that a white glowing mist in the distance --? So let's consider what we do mean by a compelling hook.
Let's say your opening scene takes place in a dentist's office, with your protagonist going in for a root canal. Probably your first inclination would be to begin with some straight-up information getting the character there: How, then, might we convey the same basic information -- we're in a dentist's office for a procedure -- that begins in the action of the moment and also holds enough mystery to convince the reader to keep going?
Maybe something like this: But it puts us in the moment, with the reader feeling as if he has that little hissing mask on his face, too, already an improvement over the first. Plus, in the first line we tried out, there's very little mystery involved; we know what's likely to come next the character is going to speak to the receptionist.
But in the second one, we get the feeling that anything might still happen: Barbara Morris might panic and try to take the mask off; she might accidentally reveal her darkest secret while loopy on gas; she might look at those two hairy dentist's hands coming toward her and suddenly realize she's in love.
We don't know what'll happen next, but hopefully we're intrigued enough to read to the next line to find out. And all of this is accomplished by starting with something fairly general going to the dentistconsidering what exact moment there we might focus on to begin, and finding a first line that conveys the moment in an interesting way and makes us, as authors, want to write the next line.
Grounds us in the protagonist's perspective. It's good to begin in a moment of action or interaction, something to grab the reader's attention right away, but it's important to remember that your reader experiences your fictional world as your protagonist does. Thus a good opening scene is one that grounds us in the main character's perspective, shows us the world through his eyes, from the very beginning.
Immediate action that's not grounded in character is just Stuff Happening and can be disorienting for a reader. As an editor and teacher I see this quite a bit: And our reaction to such a scene at the beginning of a novel is much the same as if we'd been dropped into a gun battle in real life: Get me outta here.
This is the double burden of a solid opening: But when you find that opening that does both of these things well, the chances are good that your reader -- not to mention your potential editor and publisher -- will be drawn into the story and will feel compelled to keep going.
Has a complete arc of its own but also urges us toward the next. Your opening scene has an arc of its own: We have our protagonist, who we understand has a clear internal motivation because we're grounded in the protagonist's perspective; we have a conflict, which comes up against the character's motivation or want; and finally we have a resolution that's satisfying by the scene's end -- though the way the arc plays out should raise a number of related questions that keep us reading, to see how those questions or problems play out.How does the concept of in media res apply to the opening scene of Richard III?
As the play begins, Richard introduces the main characters, which include his brothers, Lady Anne, and the queen. As the play begins, the English civil war has ended, and Richard is conspiring against his brothers to 5/5(5). Some films can get away with the big action opener. A perfect example is the famous opening sequences in the James Bond films; each film attempts to one-up the last with incredible action set-pieces.
Look at 's Skyfall and the first 10 minutes of the film, from the opening frame, is pure adrenaline rocking insanity. And it works. One of the most famous and unforgettable opening scenes in the history of film is the start of Steven Spielberg’s r-bridal.com film, credited as being the first ever “blockbuster” and responsible for launching the blockbuster genre that we know today, has an extremely memorable opening.
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The play is set in Salem, Massachusetts, ; the government is a theocracy—rule by God through religious r-bridal.com work and church consume the majority of a Salem resident’s time.
In the opening scene of Macbeth, how does Shakespeare set the atmosphere for what will happen later in the play? ‘Macbeth’ is set in Scotland. At the time, Scotland was united with England because James 1 of England also became James V1 of Scotland, the first monarch to rule both countries.