Baby Evil Writers 101: Starting a Book with Characteristic Entry Action
There are as many ways to begin a book as there are writers with ideas. (Actually a lot more because each writer has a dozen or more ways the book can start wandering around in their head). But how do you choose there where, and the when, for the reader to meet your main character?
When we meet a new person in real life, what they’re doing at the time has an effect on how we’ll view them forever. I don’t know about you, but if the first time I see someone, they’re taking a leak in the alley. I’m so way not impressed. I don’t want to meet them, or to get to know them better. The shock value of starting a story with a horrible/slimy/eww-worthy incident isn’t worth losing the reader.
Heroes can be evil but they aren’t douche bags.
A Characteristic Entry Action should crystallize your main character’s soul. Not all of it, of course, but it needs to focus on who they are and what they believe is right. If your hero is a man who rescues people in secret, superhero fashion. He might be giving his cab to an old person. He doesn’t have to like it, and he can be snarking away at himself because he’s the one left in the rain with no umbrella and no ride but, he does it anyway because that’s who he is.
Take a step back and really look at your first page. It might surprise you. Remember, you only get one chance at a first impression.