The Worst Way to Begin a Novel

Nicholas C. Rossis

epic failThe worst way to begin a novel: advice from literary agents“. That’s the title of a wonderful blog post by the Write Life. Literary agents are like ‘skilled readers’ who have gone through hundreds of novels, acquiring experience; they are also supposed to be in touch with ‘what people want’.

The post is actually quite funny – you should definitely check out the comments – and very informative. It did make me reflect on how I have started my novels and whether I have made some unspeakable mistakes. I kept reading through the posts, holding my breath and cringing about my own writing, saying to myself ‘oh thank God, I didn’t do that’ or ‘Phew, I almost did that’ and ‘oh dear, I might have done that’.

Now, agents obviously have different tastes than the average reader (or the publishing industry would not be in the sorry state it…

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18 thoughts on “The Worst Way to Begin a Novel

  1. Heh, thought I’d add a fun bit to breathe some new life into this almost 5 year old thread! 🙂

    One of my short satirical pieces in TobakkoNacht, opening with a truly killer wildly original horribly creative line…

    ===
    Title: “Love, and a Coke 45”

    It was a dark and stormy night.

    The glaring lights of the 7-11 Qwickee Mart on the corner sputtered, spangled, and sparked, casting an eerie glow over the surrounding dreary neighborhood.

    A hooded teen pushed in through the doors. The place was empty aside from two store clerks who were jabbering at each other in Lithuanian or Zimbabwum or French or Vietno-Arab-Mongolianese and the teen headed back to the Soda Safes.

    He pulled out a cold can of Coke 45 and ran up to the clerk at the cash register. The clerk started to ring it up while calling out the price when the kid suddenly started shaking the deadly can, priming it to blow before the befuddled bejabberer could reach under the counter for his sawed-off shotgun.

    “HANDS IN THE AIR! NOW!!!” the kid shouted!

    The merchants of death reached for the sky and backed away as the cold-blooded psycho-killer, a veteran of the Fizz Wars of the ’90s, reached into the open register and grabbed for the cash.

    At that point the braver of the two clerks reached for a Camel, intending to light it and cast a toxic cloud toward the armed teen but the kid was fast, too fast, and the top of the loaded can went off with a BANG!

    Frothing, Fizzling, Foozelling Fantails of Coke 45 suddenly spewed sizzlingly across the intervening space and sent both clerks reeling toward an early grave as the marauding murdering miscreant mustered back out into the night.

    Another sordid tale from the Naked City.
    ===
    Ended with a classic too! LOL!
    :>
    MJM

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the share! Massimo’s making a great point in his post, although I still think it’s interesting to read what others like reading.

    MJM’s comment reminded me of Snoopy working as an author, constantly starting his book with a simple “The” or “It was a dark and stormy night”… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “It was a dark and stormy nigh…” hmmm… no… Ahh! “Call me Ishmae…” hmm… no… don’t like that either. Ahhh!!! “In the beginning….”

    DAMN! Can’t come up with a good opening line. :/ Might as well go out ‘n have a beer….

    ;>
    MJM
    P.S. OK, I opened my TobakkoNacht with a dystopian novelette, the first part of which is set 10,000 years ago, shortly after a tribe had tamed fire. I started it with:

    “Bear Killer stared into the leaping fire.”

    🙂
    MJM

    Liked by 2 people

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