Hi. I've been away for a while, but I have a question.
A while ago I read something that said a writer has free reign for the first few paragraphs. He or she can start off very generally, with details about the world, what's wrong with it, or any other monumental thing pertaining to the story. Then he or she can introduce a character and his involvement in what's wrong with the world and his goal to set things right.
I'm just curious if anyone has a few examples of this. Trying to do it in my writing is difficult, as the concept seems very foreign to me. I normally start stories by introducing the main character in the first sentence.
Harlan Coben often opens with a philosopical commentary that leads into the problem the MC is going to face.
I've seen novels open with an inciting incident that does not involve the MC. Then the MC gets involved with the ramifications of the incident in chapter two.
An entertainingly written (not boring!) description of the situation/history/backstory can work, too. You have to make sure it IS entertaining.
Whatever you use to open with has to be evocative in some way to the reader.
How about a rhetorical question?
How many times can you lie to a person and still be believed?
I have seen something as simple as a riff on how guns are more trustworthy than friends open a novel and the subtext of the riff sets up the MC's backstory beautifully while at the same time segueing beautifully into the action of the story. Let's see that was CHAIN OF COMMAND by Caspar Weinberger and Peter Schweizer. The novel was so-so, but that opening was great.