Scott Pilgrim vs The World is all about being awesome. The mix of rocking music, video game mentality and an unbridled love for both those cultures gives the graphic series and the upcoming film a lot of appeal. Since it’s visual media in both cases, the writing isn’t just concerned with being awesome, it’s got to be awesome in as few words as possible.
“Brevity is the soul of wit.” “Pity the reader.” “Don’t waste my time.” Especially when it comes to things like comics and movies, the more story you can tell in fewer words, the more awesome the story will be overall.
This applies to novels, as well, though. You need to grab a hold of your reader and tell them they’re in for an awesome time. Chuck goes into detail about this, and it’s been driven home for me as I’ve examined the opening of Citizen in the Wilds in preparation for what I hope will be a rapid but thorough revision. There’s things about it I can already think of that need to be changed, and moments that I will try to preserve. But all of that’s for naught if I can’t hook the reader right away.
The problem with my opening paragraph is that it’s too wordy. Like the aforementioned visual media, in the case this opening, the writing needs to be succinct and punchy. I got some feedback on the first sentence in the aforementioned Terrible Minds post, and I’m taking it to heart as I re-examine that opening paragraph.
A novel is a long form of fiction. There’s lots of room in there for character development, world building, and the building of tension and complication ramping up to the climax. You’re not limited by word count. However, if you don’t hook your reader in the first 100 words, the rest of the 100,000 might as well be “watermelon” over and over again. It doesn’t matter if the later chapters in a book are awesome. When a reader picks up the book and opens up to Chapter 1, it needs to be awesome now.
If nothing else, watching LOST from the beginning has been a help. Good openings, good character development, etc. My wife is watching them for the first time. I’m studying them for clues on how to make my opening hook one that grabs a reader by the soft tissue of the cheek and doesn’t let go for the twenty chapters that follow.
If I can do that, the rest of this revision will be a snap. And it will be awesome.