Dos And Don’ts Of Writing Opening Scenes

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: each scene is unique from the rest. However, cliches and tropes are everywhere. There’s nothing wrong with them as long as they’re used in a unique way, a special way that tricks your readers into thinking it’s never been done before. With that said, there are some dos and don’ts of writing opening scenes.

Dos and Don'ts of writing opening scenes | Creative writing | blogging | scene writing | RachelPoli.com

Do

Start with the story you’re currently telling. Your readers came to find out what’s up with the blurb on the back of the book.

Don’t

Start with a dream or flashback sequence. Your protagonist doesn’t need to wake up from having the “same dream.”

Do

Open with some sort of action or conflict. Draw the readers in right away with some tension making them wonder what it’s all about.

Don’t

Open with too much scenery or talk about the weather. The description is good, but sometimes we don’t need to know it right away. It can easily be woven into the story throughout.

Do

Introduce the protagonist. Let the reader know right away who they’re going to be learning about, who they’re going to be journeying with and why they should care about that particular protagonist.

Don’t

Introduce too many characters at once. A couple characters can be introduced for sure, but you don’t want to bombard your readers with too many names.

I could go one with more dos and don’ts of writing opening scenes. But I won’t. In the end, you should take this advice with a grain of salt and do what you think is best for your book.

Do you have a few ways to write opening scenes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around.

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21 thoughts on “Dos And Don’ts Of Writing Opening Scenes

  1. Sadly, after reading this, I find I have broken one of the rules.
    But it does confirm one thing, I should go with the start I originally intended to use.
    But…
    No doubt when revision time comes, and 350 pages later when I write those much awaited words, The End, a new start will probably be required.
    And no doubt it will now adhere to the do’s and don’ts above.
    Thank you for the timely advice

    • I wouldn’t call these “rules.” It’s all still a matter of opinion. Some people prefer the “dont’s” while others prefer the “dos.” Write what you feel is right for your story. 🙂 I appreciate you reading and commenting!

  2. I always the try to start with a question or action sequence. Something that’s going to make the reader want to know what’s going on.
    Things can slow down afterward, but the first chapter needs to really hook into the reader and reel them in.

  3. Note to self: change title of my story, A Dream Recurring. Why? I have a poem which which works as the introduction, telling the reader what one is reading is a set of reccuring dreams. If I leave my title the same, the poem is useless.

  4. I don’t agree that you have to start right away with action. You need it quick, but not right off the bat. Sometimes you neex to let the reader breathe so that the opening action actually has impact.

Let me know your thoughts!

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