Sunday, 7 June 2009
How not to start a novel...
There are many ways not to start a novel. The hero waking (with a start, naturally) is bad, and gets worse if you recount the dream he's just had, then make him get up and stare in the mirror so you can let the reader know what he looks like.
Personally - and this may be to do with my gender - I am unenthusiastic about novels that begin,
He gazed through the windscreen of his Mercedes-Benz SLR, tensely clicking the Halton-Ratchett RK 41.5's safety catch, his white shirt and Graff black diamond cufflinks gleaming in the dusk...
You just know that before too many pages have passed, you'll be meeting his young, slim, full-breasted, sexually enthusiastic girlfriend. She's another bit of his kit, and with about as much personality.
Then there's the author who introduces on page one a character you warm to, only to kill him off before you reach chapter 2.
But my very least favourite first chapter has to be the one that starts with five or six characters sitting round a table; each one says or does something in turn, and in order to get any sort of grip on the story you have to memorize them. It's hard work. Was it Gina who had the fiery red hair, the underprivileged background she's fighting to escape and a media job? Or Stacey? No, Stacey's the tall one who's just been dumped by her boyfriend and has a pet cat...
I've come across several unpublished novels with too many characters too soon, and my question is, can anyone think of a published novel that begins in this way?
Virtual prizes will be awarded.
Posted by Lexi at Sunday, June 07, 2009