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Thus Spake Zarathustra Folk cats rnd Fics PkMn FMA ¬_¬ other LJ Got Val? I defeat you!
I read, I write. - Are we not men?
I read, I write.
I have to go get food. brb. Wow, cherry-vanilla Dr. Pepper is good.

OK, I have food! You know what? Moofy is Naughty. He destroyed a roll of toilet paper last night. I suppose I should just be grateful he couldn't get into the trash.

I have a cold. The kind of cold that has me talking like this "I hab a code" and sneezing a lot. Yesterday I had a headache but today I don't so yey.

I made a new layout for my other journal. I also made this icon I was wanting the other day, finally found a picture I liked.

So, lots of my friends write fanfic, or non-fanfic, and it's good. And I go like this "I should write fanfic!" but then I go to comms and read fanfics, and it's less than good, and I think "ooh suppose I accidentally write everybody OOC and have a crappy first para."

So, let me give some hints as to crappy first paragraphs. Because that really can kill a fic. OOC-ness, well, lots of people will overlook that. But a bad first para makes us not want to gush over the piece.

The first paragraph should grab the reader's attention so that he is inclined to read more. The first sentence is especially important to achieve this. Dialogue is a good choice, as the reader suddenly must read more simply to find out who is speaking and to whom. Yelling dialogue is even better; it pulls the reader immediately into a conflict, which is the basis of all fiction to begin with. Other commonly used and relatively easy to implement starts include sound effects (BANG.), anonymous malicious actions (He picked the phone from the dead man's hands and breathed one word into the receiver.) and incomplete introspection (...monster... the word echoed in his mind.)
Of course, that is not the complete list of all good beginnings. But here is a list of bad opening statements. Exposition. Some very talented writers with unique witty stylings can get away with this. Odds are, you are not that guy. Until you are convinced that you are, avoid openings such as "Bob had always been the sort of person who liked socks, and today was no different." But even that is better than "Sylvia walked home from the store, humming to herself and thinking about George's cologne."
In each of those, we are being told something explicitly. In the first, there is no action whatsoever and the description implies heavily what the contents of the next sentence will be. We are pretty sure the next sentence will have something to do with Bob and his socks. Either he is putting on socks, or he is taking off socks, or his socks feel squishy after riding the Splashwater Falls at 6-Flags. Do we care? Not really. We can confidently skip that entire paragraph with no loss of comprehension. Later in the story, when we care enough about Bob to be interested in his character development, we won't feel like skipping Bob's sock adventure.
In the second example, there is action, but not interesting action. We already know too much about the immediate time in the story. Sylvia is happy, George is either her lover or a crush, and she's just been shopping. Again, we just don't care enough about Sylvia to be interested in her day-to-day routine. Now, combine one of the examples in the Good section with this one, and we have something intriguing.
He picked the phone from the dead man's hands and breathed one word into the receiver.
He tossed his head back and laughed, crushing the hapless electronic device under his heel as he casually stepped out of the darkness and back into the dull glare of the streetlamps.
* * *
Sylvia walked home from the store, humming to herself and thinking about George's cologne.

Are we intrigued now? We are. Was George the dead man? Is George the killer? Was it George on the other end of the phone? Or is Sylvia next on the killer's list of people to kill? We have to read more to find out. And that is the goal of the opening paragraph.

So, sure, my examples are from suspense, but it also works with humor and romance. In fact I just read a quite nice little drabble that used one of the 'good' openings to it's full potential (conflict dialogue). Sadly, I'm preaching to the choir here, you lot are all good writers and my little rant here is probably completely superfluous. I'm probably wrong, too, but that's OK, because I know what I meant.

Jammin' with : Ayaka Hirahara - BLESSING
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I saved you a seat.
Date: October 27th, 2004 - 04:13 pm
I love you <3

That was full of awesome.
This place is filthy.
Date: October 28th, 2004 - 02:40 pm
Thanks :D It needed sayin.
Are you gonna eat that?
Date: October 27th, 2004 - 05:50 pm
I love that sentace! Oooh. Shivers!

Hopefully the fics I'm writing can implement such greatness in their first sentances.
Stop asking about milk already.
Date: October 28th, 2004 - 02:40 pm
I'm half-tempted to follow up on that and write a whole thing, but I'm kinda tired of narrative so I probably won't ^^
Stop asking about milk already.
Date: October 27th, 2004 - 10:07 pm
Oi I always start with descriptions! Okay, so they're not as boring as those ones you made up, but I'm... not really offended. ^_^;
Date: October 28th, 2004 - 02:44 pm
But most of the time when you start with a description, it's not the real 'beginning', you're like, writing stuff out and gonna edit later.
Or you could try using dialogue or sound effects.
Date: October 29th, 2004 - 01:22 am
You make a really good, and smart, point!
Date: October 29th, 2004 - 07:47 am
OK. Wanna analyse the opening para of my current fanfic? Cos like no one ever gives me any feedback. Anyway, it reads:

The regolith shifted. Despite the low gravity, the tumbling rocks appeared to fall quickly, threatening to betray the group’s location.

So how would you rate that?
I'm a babe magnet.
Date: November 1st, 2004 - 07:43 pm
Sorry it takes me forever to reply, it's because I suck.
BUT, that's a pretty intriguing first para there. Personally, and this is my personal opinion so take it for what it's worth, I think there should be something more personal in there. The phrase 'the group' just doesn't make me feel any sympathy, and it seems like the goal here is to put the reader on edge. I'm not on edge from reading it (but I am curious as to the situation), because individuals are not involved. Also, if it were me, perhaps a redesign of the second sentence to give the situation more urgency. For some reason starting off with a dependant clause makes it a little less urgent. I dunno, Maybe something like "The regolith shifted. Sam watched in horror as the tumbling rocks threatened to betray his location to the soldiers below."
I dunno, and then put the hints that there is more than one person involved as well as it's in a low-grav environment after that. Someone in danger is universal, so you know, focus on that (in my opinion) than the indications that we're not on Earth (that only grabs the sci-fi folks).
I'm not saying it's a bad intro, but me personally, I'm sorta so-so on sci-fi so I'm like "Hrm, I wonder if ... eh. It can wait." based on the first para.
Although, you did say fanfic, so probably people reading would already know the fandom prior to reading it.

Again, it's just my opinion, and I could be completely off base. You know what you like to read, so if you write like that, then other people who like what you like will like it. Wow that sounded, like, stupid.
I'm a babe magnet.
Date: November 2nd, 2004 - 11:11 am
OK. Well that first para by itself is a little short to get the feel of what's coming. The personal touch is added in the dialogue following immediately afterward:

The regolith shifted. Despite the low gravity, the tumbling rocks appeared to fall quickly, threatening to betray the group’s location.
‘Shit Tane!’ a disgruntled voice echoed over the short-band, ‘Do you want to tell the whole friggin’ moon we’re here?’
‘Quiet!’ hissed another voice, forcing Tane to clamp his rebuttal for now.

Does that grab you a little more?
Teacher said not to.
Date: May 9th, 2007 - 06:09 am
Wow, I apologize. I guess you posted that when LJ was going through its "let's not deliver comment notices to emails!" phase. Man. I feel really bad now.

Actually, yes, just the visual cue that the next para starts with someone speaking is actually very compelling. Don't underestimate the power of what can be physically seen (i.e., the quote marks in the next para). Of course, this doesn't apply when your brililant work is translated into braille ;)

I'm really sorry if I never responded way back in 2004. I feel like an ass now --;;
11 droids -- Spew an android