These prompts always help me learn about myself since I don’t usually know the answers. In this case, I’ve realized I don’t like beginning of novels much. Most of the time, I’m alright but I am just reading through waiting to get hooked.
A common piece of advice is to include action in the beginning. But that doesn’t quite work for me. Maybe the story begins with a man being kidnapped. Of course it’s a horrible situation but I’m not invested in the story. Why should I read about this man’s kidnapping? That’s the tricky part of beginning – the readers don’t yet care so how do you get their attention?
I’m not too fussed about this since I know I’ll be invested eventually if the book is good. But it does mean the rare beginnings that hook me right away don’t tend to be action packed. For instance, there’s the classic Pride and Prejudice opening: “It is a universally acknowledged fact that a single man in possession of a fortune must be in want of a wife.” This quote is witty and ironic, revealing a nice voice. It moves on to the scene of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett arguing – a typical occurrence for them – and the humor carries it through.
“The Book Thief” has a great beginning because it’s narrated by death. And learning about death, as morbid as it sounds, is interesting and intriguing. Plus, death has a nice sense of humor and an ironic voice, tinged with cynicism.
That answers the question of what beginning I like – those with humor and a strong voice. Bizarre beginning do catch my attention too. Case in point – in “The Sea of Monsters”, it begins with Grover (a (male) satyr) getting a wedding dress. Of course I read on. But it can’t just be kidnapping or new world weird. It has to be best satyr buddy wearing a wedding dress weird.
Now I’m going to talk about endings. I won’t give any spoilers but I’ll talk about my emotions after reading so tread carefully!
Endings is simpler for me to answer. I love endings that make me cry. Well, okay, books never make me cry. But I get teary. “A Tale of Two Cities” was one such story. I didn’t quite tear up at the end of “Les Miserables” but I was close. Now, I did tear up at one point at the end of “The Book Thief”. It wasn’t where I expected but I don’t want to give spoilers. If any of you want to talk about these amazing endings, mark your comment with a spoiler warning.
No tragic ending discussion would be complete without a mention of Robin Hood. I read “The Adventures of Robin Hood” a couple years ago and it tore my heart into tiny pieces. I’m not just being dramatic. I moaned to my brother about my pain for the next three weeks or so.
And yet I love these endings. I am crazy.
Still, sweet happy endings have their place too. I love the endings of books like Behold the Dawn, The House of the Seven Gables, and The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Finally, here are a couple endings that don’t quite fit into these categories. There’s the ending of E. M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” – it’s amazing and makes me love the whole story. A real five star ending. The ending of “The Lilies of the Field” is ambiguous but not so that I’m bursting with suspense. It has a warm feel and wraps up the story nicely. I like the ending of “Mockingjay” mostly for the last lines but also for the melancholy, dreamy feel.
What are some of your favorite beginnings and endings? Want to talk about some of these?
Also check out the rest of the blog chain.
7th – http://vergeofexisting.wordpress.com/
8th – http://zarahoffman.com/
9th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/
10th – http://www.elizamcfarlish.weebly.com/
11th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/
12th – http://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/
13th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/
14th – http://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/
15th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/
16th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/
17th – https://ttkesley.wordpress.com/
18th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/
19th – http://www.freeasagirlwithwings.wordpress.com/
20th – http://roomble.wordpress.com/
21st – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/
22nd – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/
23rd – http://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/
24th – http://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/
25th – http://write-where-you-are.blogspot.de/
26th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/
27th – http://semilegacy.blogspot.com/
28th – http://oliviarivers.wordpress.com/
29th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/
30th – http://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/
and http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)