Reply To: ADVICE FROM MY AGENT: 9 OPENINGS TO AVOID

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#42907
Linnea Sinclair
Moderator

One of my big issues is White Room Syndrome but your recent comments about making setting be something important to the MC or to the plot, as well as watching for changes, is a big ah-hah for me.

I very much believe in setting as character/conflict. We have the choice to create whatever setting we want–this is fiction. Just riffing here…

1. If  you open with your MC and [whoever] having a discussion in a coffee shop, you have the choice to make the coffee shop itself contribute to the tension in the opening. If the characters’ conversation is something they don’t want overhead, you can make the tables close together, have the waitress linger too long… Or have it be completely empty and the guy behind the counter can (possibly) hear every word. Have the WRONG person walk it at the WRONG time.

2. If your story opens in a business/office setting (and Ellen is now playing with this) there’s a BIG difference between having the opening salvo in the employee’s office as opposed to the boss’s office. Brenda put her MC in the HR office, which right then and there ups the tension. Remember the opening with Thomas Pitt being called out of HIS office into the queen’s presence? We don’t see that last part, but he’s clearly not in control of the situation in his own office when the queen’s messenger now enters–that shifts the entire emotional subtext and dynamic. (Anne Perry is a SUPERB writer, so if you like historical books, study her use of craft.)

3. If you open outside in the wild (even if it’s on a NYC street), use temperature, season, time of day, crowds (or lack of crowds), weather, flora and fauna…

4. I love writing scenes where my MC (in conflict) can’t easily escape the conflict. Obviously, in my genre, that means a starship or space station. But you can just as easily use an elevator, a corporate jet, a subway car, a taxi, a ski lift… I like putting my MCs in positions where running away from the problem isn’t an option. If your MC is in the middle of having her hair frosted/colored and it in the stylist’s chair, draped in one of those huge smocks, and suddenly the LAST PERSON SHE WANTS TO SEE is seated in the chair next to her… it’s not that she can’t run out of the salon, but it’s socially unacceptable to do so (unless the salon is on fire or something…). So you can also trap your MC in an obligatory and emotionally uncomfortable space…

Just some evil thoughts on my part…

//Interstellar Adventure Infused with Romance//
www.linneasinclair.com

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