Saturday, July 2, 2011

Must We Start Where The Action Is

We have all heard it said repeatedly start where the action is, but then how many novels do you pick up or movies do you watch that don't necessarily follow that advice?  They start off with a relaying of back story, or slower-paced narrative where the author is trying to pull us into the character's life.  What they are trying to do is make you connect so that when something does happen you're involved, you care.  Does this work?  In my opinion, sometimes they succeed, and sometimes they don't.

We know that writing is a subjective business - some will love our work while others will hate it.  I believe the start of our work falls under the same category - subjective.  But, it's up to us the writer to make it something that will draw in the reader and keep them turning the pages whether this be a complicated character, or an intense gun fight.

So what is the difference between a successful "slow" start, and an unsuccessful one?  Conflict.  Without that we risk having a flat narrative with nothing to yank the reader into the world we've created.  A conflict needs to be resolved, or handled.  We want to know how the character is going to overcome a situation, or deal with it.

So, what about you?  How do you normally begin your novels?  Do you follow the advice of starting where the action is or do you start slower while riddling in enough conflict to draw in your reader?