Openings: Genre Novels


Genre novels usually begin with a character who’s on the verge of change: orders are delivered to a craggy-jawed marine who’s passing time in a brothel, a tense school teacher picks up her suitcase after signing the papers for the sale of her childhood home, the body of a pretty-young-thing is thrown off a train as it rolls through a tunnel, the gentleman is stunned when a stranger tosses him a filthy little girl just before the father’s run down by a police car.

Because life presents us with infinite opportunities for action we are constantly choosing between doing and not doing. Usually we don’t notice we’ve made the simple choices. Shall I step down the stairs? Shall I lift the cup? But some decisions have to be made with a degree of awareness. Shall I abandon this lover or buy that can of peas?

Beginning to read a book or watch a tv show is usually done consciously but good writing craft provides the audience with a space in which to make a choice to continue while at the same time the writer tries to ease the reader through that choice so they don’t even notice that they’ve made it. The words flow out easily, the pace is never altered, never let to drag until without hesitation the writer offers, the reader seamlessly accepts, and the two continue with the task of giving and taking a story until suddenly they have both ceased to notice that the story is unfolding before them.