Oct 25, 2009

Really super cliché list for story openers

Nathan Bransford, California literary agent and king of the publishing bloggers, just ran a contest. In this contest, something like a million billion authors sent in first paragraphs of books, and Nathan picked the best one. I'm not so much interested in the best one per se, but about halfway down the results post, he breaks down the most common features of his very large sample group. This list is very interesting, and also very representative of what I've been seeing in my review books. People just really, really want to start their books these ways. So if you've started your book with one of these things, just be aware that others have had the same idea. Lots of others.

(I'm not sure what the protocol is for yoinking this kind of thing...but Nathan I heart you please don't sue me I'll take it down if it was wrong.)

The following is somewhat abbreviated from the original post.

-setting/rising suns and characters bathed in red colors, as well as moons and characters bathed in twilight.
- Girls looking in mirrors/brushing their hair/looking in mirrors while brushing their hair
- Corpses and blood
- Second person.
- A person who is dying but feels all detached from the experience. Sort of like: "I am dying, but I feel nothing but a bemused disinterest about it. Isn't it curious that I'm dying? I suppose I should be scared right now. This is peculiar indeed."
- Waking up
- Gripping the steering wheel tightly
- Contemplating the depth of an important moment, especially: "If only this one thing hadn't happened, then everything would have been different." "It was just like any other day, only then this one thing happened." "This was the precise moment when everything changed."
- The pull the chair out from under the reader several times paragraph, like this: "Statement. Well, it wasn't that per se, it was somewhat like this. Or should I say rather more like this. Still, it was indeed kind of like that original statement. Only kind of not really."
- Common phrases: "consumed with fear," "last thing I/he/she wanted/expected, "washed over me/him/her, "top of my/his/her lungs," "farthest thing from my/his/her mind," "(blank) - literally," "they/my mom/my grandmother say(s) that (aphorism)."

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