One commenter asked about starting a book with (gasp, the horrors, shudder, somebody get the smelling salts) . . . dialogue. Nicola's response is below:
Sam - I'm delighted you asked that question, actually. First, I had vaguely heard that unpubbed writers worried about this but I have no idea where it came from. I have never, in all my conversations with dozens/hundreds of novelists, heard anyone say it or discuss it. It would, frankly, be beneath our dignity to make or stick to such a ridiculous rule. rules must have reasons and this has none (except see the end of this comment.)
If you want one single example of why this rule simply cannot be taken seriously, look no further than the first line of one of the most successful AND respected contemporary novels of our time, Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses. I could find more but I can't be bothered!
The only conceivable reasons to avoid dialogue as your first sentence are a) that it's difficult to do well and b) that it's difficult to convey enough of the tone etc of the whole story. But that latter reason doesn't really hold, because you're going to go on to do that in the following sentences.
So, definitely a rule to ignore! If dialogue IS the best way to start your story, it is.
The above italicized section is from Nicola Morgan's blog: Help! I Need A Publisher! and was gleaned from the comments section of this post.
Now, for my enlightened thoughts on the subject matter: Hooray for Nicola!!
I've always thought that the right piece of dialogue could be the best start to a novel. Okay, haven't always thought that, but it sounded good as I was blithely typing along.
"Oh, dear, so sorry I shot you three times in the chest, it really was an accident." Marie casually wiped her fingerprints off the gun and stepped over her husband's dead body.
or . . .
"You're not George Bailey, and this isn't A Wonderful Life."
or . . .
Well the examples from my depraved mind could go on and on. The thing with dialogue as a beginning is it has to be done right and set the tone of the novel. A bland, pithy (don't ask, it just sounded right, and I've been using the word a lot lately) piece of dialogue just isn't going to cut it.
So, have you ever opened your novels of brilliance with dialogue? Did you keep the dialogue through the various revision stages? Care to share your brilliant dialogue that set the tone of the novel?
And, now to Work in Progress Wednesday . . . I've been mulling over three ideas for the last month or so, and just couldn't decide which one I wanted to delve into as my new writing project for 2010. In an effort to be fair to all three children of my supreme brilliance (sorry, a bit more snarky than usual today - sincerest apologies), I've been working on all three projects in the hopes that one would sprint forward ahead of the others. Well, one did, and I'm happy to report that in the past few days I've . . .
- Begun and Completed the Rough of Part I
- Started Part II
- Written 12, 500 words!
Can I hear a big WOO-HOO!!!!
I don't know why this project, versus the others, has taken the lead in my imagination. It just has, I'm not complaining, and I'm just going with the flow of words. Everything is just falling into place with this project, though I can hear the others breathing heavily (no, they're not making obscene phone calls) in my mind, trying to catch up to the project in the lead. They're determined, those wonderful little projects not content to wait in the wings of the darkness of my mind!