Thursday, January 26, 2012
Open with a Bang
Have you ever noticed that the best storytellers always open their novels with a bang? And I'm not talking about the usual -- car accidents, gun shots, fist fights or breakups. I'm talking about an opening where such a provocative decision is made that you can't help but want to read on.
One of the best examples I've read is in Janice Y. K. Lee's THE PIANO TEACHER. I wish I could just type the entire first paragraph into this post, but ... I won't. I'll just tell you that the main character fascinated me from the very beginning because of one intriguing decision.
She's working as a piano teacher for a very rich Hong Kong family. A figurine falls into her purse accidentally while she's teaching the lesson and she leaves the house with it. When she later discovers what she's done, instead of taking it back to the owner, she ... buries the figurine in her drawer.
I was so curious. Not only about the main character and her rather surprising decision to hide the figurine, but about the other characters, too. What is it about them that the main character couldn't (or wouldn't or shouldn't) give the figurine back? What was she afraid of? There were so many possibilities.....
And, let me tell you, the reason she did this was not one I expected. Which is another mark of a great storyteller, I think.
Can you name some book openings that fascinated you?
If you're a writer, do you examine your characters' early decisions and find ways of making them more provocative?
THE PIANO TEACHER from Barnes & Noble.
THE PIANO TEACHER from Amazon.
THE PIANO TEACHER from The Book Depository.
Click >>here<< for the Goodreads description.