The Poll Results Are In And I’m Surprised #amwriting

Last week, I polled readers about how they like books to begin. Granted, I have a small readership, and the poll had a small response, but I was surprised at what I learned.

DRUMROLL, PLEASE!

Click here for larger picture.

There was a tie between “Conversation” and “Background material or character/setting.” So much for the “Readers want you to begin with action” accepted wisdom.

In fact, the answers were so all-over-the-board, I’d say my basic advice to what writers should do still stands: Do Whatever Works.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Begin a story with conversation and/or setting.

MA

Save

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

You may also like...

One thought on “The Poll Results Are In And I’m Surprised #amwriting

  1. Jane
    Twitter:

    October 31, 2016 at 9:37am

    Great poll.
    I still say that I can often tell on the first page if I have to stop reading. That would be a bad opening, I’d say.

    So, general rule:
    Don’t make your reader hate you or your characters almost immediately!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen
      Twitter:

      October 31, 2016 at 10:21am

      Yes, sometimes I can tell from the first paragraph that this is a writer with whom I don’t want to spend any more time. Sometimes I’m wrong, though, and forcing myself to read on (because somebody whose opinion I value recommended the book or gave me the book or wrote the book) brings a pleasant and satisfying surprise. But the first page generally engages the reader’s trust — or it doesn’t.
      Marian Allen would love to share..The Poll Results Are In And I’m Surprised #amwritingMy Profile

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Dan
    Twitter:

    October 31, 2016 at 4:13pm

    “Do whatever works” works for so many things. I think we need less formula snd more good results. Works for me…whatever (sorry)
    Dan would love to share..Happy Hal…Oh-It’s-OverMy Profile

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. I like to make a solid connection to a character, especially when writing multiple third-person pov, before anything else: yank the reader into the character’s head. That could be most things (except backstory).

    I think backstory works best in an omniscient pov – common in fantasy – where the narrator is important, and you want to see the whole world from the pov of the person ‘telling’ the story – and see if that person can actually do that.

    Here are the beginnings [and endings] of the first six scenes in NETHERWORLD:

    —–
    “You, sir, are on top of the world.”
    [But he knew perfectly well what Dana wanted.]

    I wasn’t supposed to see him again.
    [Leviathan. In Norway. Very far away. Very safe.]

    “What are you watching?”
    [“I forgot. He told Dana Lewiston—before you got home.”]

    “How do you pick the right woman? A girl in Ireland you’re going home to?” Dana, wide-eyed and innocent.
    [Settled is an illusion for the likes of ye.]

    What the heck did I do with myself all day before?
    [She felt lighter than she’d felt in days. Since he left.]

    He didn’t even call. On his head be it.
    [He had his chance to do this the easy way. Now we’re doing it my way.]
    —–

    Can you tell the scenes are from the pov of Andrew, Kary, Bianca, Andrew, Kary, Bianca, respectively?

    They are missing the italics I use for direct internal monologue, and emphasis, but even then I have:
    Dialogue: 3 starts
    Thought: 3 starts

    Each scene will be preceded in the book by a line header with the character’s name, and, where necessary, an indication of where you are in time and space, so I don’t have to provide those details immediately (which is, I guess, sort of cheating).

    My biggest task is to get you to go through 1000-2000 words in the head of each character, right behind the eyeballs.

    I don’t want to give you too much time to think. That’s MY job.

    Those first lines are not necessarily the first thing I think of when writing a scene, but once they come to me, the scene is pinned, and I can write the emotional journey from the beginning to the end.

    I have a lot of fun with it.
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt would love to share..You like a writer’s style and voice – or you don’tMy Profile

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen
      Twitter:

      November 1, 2016 at 7:21am

      MOST interesting — and thank you SO MUCH for a preview of NETHERWORLD. “Emotional journey” is the term, all right. You even make me feel with Bianca!
      Marian Allen would love to share..Return To #MinecraftMy Profile

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

Your email will not be published. Name and Email fields are required

CommentLuv badge

This blog uses premium CommentLuv which allows you to put your keywords with your name if you have had 3 approved comments. Use your real name and then @ your keywords (maximum of 3)