- Introduce the genre/setting/main character.
- Mention the Problem/Goal.
Protagonist is a normal, everyday protagonist who does protagonist things in GenreWorld. Suddenly a WildMcGuffin appears! Now Protagonist must somehow deal with the WildMcGuffin while SubPlots attempt to distract them from the Goal.
This is the hook to draw the reader in. Introduce the PoV character and world. Introduce the plot driving element. Cliffhanger the crap out of that intro to get readers to start reading the danged book. Readers twig to the Who (main character) the Where (setting/genre) and the Why (plot driving device). The How is the story itself.
1. Start With a Character
2. Put the Character in a Scene.
3. Give the Character a Goal
4. Limit Backstory to the Bare Minimum
5. Add a Hook
1. A scene in which something is happening (MC running away from something, a fight, MC trying to survive a monster attack, etc) thus grabbing the reader's attention
2. A quote said either by the protagonist or a supporting character
3. Scenes that show the character in action (e.g. driving to an unknown place while nervous) which makes the reader wonder what might happen next.
"Good" introductions try to set up something whether it's the plot, the conflict or the overall character and their personality through action.
The longer version would be a good book needs good characters, the intro is the hook that answers the question why should I care about what happens to the characters? If the characters are interesting, what's happening, and what's going to happen hooks me in, then it's a good intro. That said, the quality and style of the writing is also important, in other words, it has to flow. To parahpase Paradoxcloud a bit, the intro shouldn't be too much different than the rest of the book, the overall quality has to be consistent. (Something I'm not good at as a writer, but I could definitely discern as a reader)
Yes, there are parameters that you should follow as a writer. However, I don't care about those when I'm reading for fun.
The introductions that usually catch my eye the most on a bad way, are writers who are trying to introduce a story by trying far too hard to be something. They either try starting with landscape or they are busy misleading readers and introducing the story and rushing the readers along and then by the next chapter. Nothing like that introduction that was written too literally with action and is a clichéd chase dream sequence that makes promises the story doesn't follow. And that really all ask for.
Your introduction has a promise of what your story is about.
The reason why I don't list eye catching and hook your readers because I feel it's a little misleading. Because that assumes we are all writing the same book and that eye catch means something big needs to happen. Eye catching can be something small but very significant.
DeadZoneGTV Wrote:I am curious to know what elements of an introduction you enjoy the most, and why? What makes these introductions good in the context of their stories, and what makes you want to read the rest of the book?
A good introduction depends upon what key information you want your text to convey, but ultimately I think you want to 'pull' the reader towards the key focus of your work, rather than 'push' them, e.g. providing a compelling hook that makes the reader question what is happening and eager to learn more. Something that is very difficult! But typical advice here is to start the story as close to the initial action as possible. This is also what makes me want to read further!
I don't claim that it is easy. But expecting readers to cope with your introduction so that they can enjoy the story afterwards will only leave everyone disappointed. (Unless you manage to get people to pay for it first, so they are willing to endure the introductions to get to the stuff they payed for. But even then some will stop there and just tell everyone how bad it is.).
1 paragraph - if the first paragraph (or ~200 words) of the story can't draw me in, I usually won't bother.
1 chapter - if the first paragraph is good, I'll give the first chapter a try. If the first chapter can't capture me, the story probably isn't worth reading more of.
1 hour - I'll devote an hour to reading the story. If I'm not engrossed in the story by the first hour and want more, then there's really no point in reading further.
So the question is what can an author do to draw a reader in with the first 200 or so words. Generally, you need to introduce an intriguing/exciting premise and a character that I can see myself wanting to know more about. The author has to thread the needle between being too edgy (e.g. having the story start with the MC being a world-defying badass) and too bland (e.g. infodump of the MC's childhood). Really, though, the most important thing to ask yourself is: would I keep reading this if it wasn't my story?
For reference, here are the first eighty words of my current project:
Quote:My last memory of my father is of being told in his stern and clipped voice not to run in the hallway with my stockings on. My last memory of my mother is of her being dragged across the courtyard by her hair, dragged by three cloaked Lapis-Crowns, terror in her eyes, tears streaming down her face.
It may surprise you to learn that my childhood was largely a happy one. I did not know terror before the Lapis-Crowns came.