How to write the start of a novel

The start of the book is one of the most crucial elements of a story as it will encourage or discourage a reader to continue, so here's how to do it right. Reviewing viewer writing samples: Awesome shirts by Shadiversity:

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Ah, The Way of Kings! A wonderful book!
How to start a novel: "The night was moist"
A good companion video to this would be the "Trope Talk: Beginnings" video from Overly Sarcastic Productions.
Some of my favorite opening lines The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason. The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault.. "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."
You are helping me get over my writer's block :) Thanks Shad! EDIT: I'm thinking of just writing a book of various short stories to set up the setting, characters, etc. before I actually start writing a full novel. Is this a sound move?
Wheel of Time, jesus I do remember reading that behemoth. Fine writing, very fine. And will take you a LONG time. Enjoy.
Where can I submit?
My one rule about writing: If it's boring to write, it's boring to read.
Wouldn't the hook at the start of a book be meaningless if the back cover doesn't interest them first?
''As i look upon the charred wasteland of the old world, that was once known as America.''' is this a good start to a Book, im not writting a book but i may be writting it for something for school.
Sank you my frien
Hah! Joke's on you – I'm so used to (otherwise excellent) literature having a very boring introduction, that, as a child, I got into the habit of starting a few pages into the book, and trying to mentally reconstruct whatever I had "missed". This kept me engaged, and, once I'd have been sufficiently "hooked", I'd go back to actually *read* the first pages (sometimes I'd have skipped whole chapters):P
George Orwell's 1984 started brilliantly. "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." The hook is that the clocks were striking thirteen. Since clocks normally go up to twelve, this grabs the readers attention and interest on the very first sentence.Another really good start (although not in the first sentence, still a great attention grabbing start) is the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams "Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea." The start is written well from the very first sentence, but the random mentioning of digital watches and associating them with being primitive is very attention grabbing. Not only that but based on this very start you can tell how much the author is going to keep trolling the readers in the most brilliant and enjoyable way possible. From the moment I read this opening for the first time, I knew I was going to love this book, and the rest didn't disappoint. The brilliance of the writing didn't end there, it continued brilliantly as well. I suck at openings or writing any scenes that are not action scenes, but I am slowly improving. I don't have the courage to send any of my works to be reviewed by you or anyone really because I know my writing sucks and needs a lot of work. But I will get there eventually. Thank you for making these helpful videos.
Any chance of a "What medieval weapons would VAMPIRES really use?"
But what about dragons?
I don't think a catchy hook for the first line of a book is a must. Maybe I'm just weird like that but this is a link to a youtuber, who I think explains it better than me.
I would be interested if you have time to hear your thoughts on the opening of A Game of Thrones, the first book in a song of fire and ice.
"Look, i didn't want to be a half-blood"
Pretty sad that i cant read the Storm light Archive and the Kingkiller Chronicles as well as A song of Ice and Fire, because these series are not finished. and i prefer not to read unfinished series.
Thanks for the tips, i really enjoy your videos and i might subscribe, what do you suggest?
As a non-native english speaker who has yet to read "Pride and Prejudicd", I found this first line f*ucking great.
I have a request for you. In my modern fantasy a girl uses a crossbow instead of a gun. May you please do a video on crossbows.
This helped me think of something, I have a lot of ideas but I keep failing to write anything more than a couple pages cuz I re-read them and re-write them and re-write them and so on, till infinity and never finish anything. But I think I might have a way to solve this problem finally.
Shad make a video about why the people in the medival era didnot have a civilization you know it's named dark ages and compare between saracens when had a civilization and them . please .
As Brandon Sanderson said, the start of your novel must have a hook to make the reader interested and set up a promise that you will fulfill throughout the book or at the end.
Wrong video to say this, but please respond if you see this. Is it disadvantageous and bad form to change between the two types of third person as needed(from chapter to chapter)?
Countless eons of life have I lived in both happiness and despair.Tell me how it does please.
Towering army strategists crowded around a circular table adorning a map of (insert world name here). Heavy rain battered the cave dimly lit by torches, thunder masking the shouts and arguments of the bickering men. What do you think I know it's bad but I just wanted someone else's opinions and ideas on how to improve the start of my book
A rustle of busyness has erupted at the Morane estate.
Hey men, I always wanted to read a fantasy novel from someone who actually knows something about medieval weapons, castles and so on. Where can we find your work?
"The town was in flames." Literally the first sentence in Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski. Instantly hooked.
Hey, Shad! Will you review the castle Casterly Rock from Game of Thrones? We finally got to see it in the latest episode and I think it'd be interesting. Highgarden appears as well.
"In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit." It still doesn't sit well for me, that you once used Tolkien as an example for bad writing, Shad. Sequels change everything: This criticism forgets first of all, that LotR is a sequel answering to requests to know more about Hobbits - people were asking for the info dump chapter "Concerning Hobbits". Being a linguist and a poet, truly few fit the term "word smith" as he does. No one lives your phrase "Show vs. Tell" as he does. However this hook should satisfy you as well "When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton." There's a very good reason, Shad, why LotR always lands 2nd place in lists of favoured books of english speaking countries.
I just want to ask how would anyone here write: "George aimed for his head, held his breath and closed his eyes" I don't know, it seems to me there are far to many "his-es" for a line that short. (first his - he - someone mentioned before, second and third reffers to George's) Also, is it good idea to open a book with inner tention, over outside shit acctually happening? I'd like to give an insight in character's feelings, but i also don't want to destroy pacing. Also, i know Shad recommended limited over omniscient, but I want to go from foot soliders, trough civilians to goverment conspiracies in that book, so i think omniscient would be reasonable.
So the best way to start a book. . . is b8?
"There was Eru, the one, ..."
Is it still possible to send in writing for Shadiversity to look at? Would love to send him something I have been working on?
I was just thinking of the Stormlight Archives when he started mentioning hooks, and was like, "Well, I don't remember the first line being terribly gripping."Naturally I mean the prologue, not Szeth's bit.Stormclasts aren't terribly gripping.
Shad I can't see the hook on a SOng of Ice and Fire though.
It was the best of times it was the worst of times Once Upon a Time Funny nothing Ever happened nowadays? Then (the name?) were dead to begin with! In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit
I remember some "Advice" my nana gave me. Any book could be improved if the second sentence said "And then the Murder began"
A word of advice to people looking to do a poetic opening (from the experience of someone who does this a lot)- don't try to cram every idea you have into the first paragraph. First of all, this will make sentences unbearably long, leaving those reading aloud struggling for breath and those reading in their heads confused as to what the sentence actually means. Second, it will contain too much imagery- imagine trying to discern meaning from an over-saturated picture, this is the same effect. Thirdly, it'll leave you starved of original poetry to write later on, which is something no writer wants.
Hey Shad, if you haven't already you should check out the channel Terrible Writing Advice. It's full on sarcasm, funny, and helpful
OOH OOH, I got one. The Queen of the Black Coast: "Hoofs drummed down the street that sloped to the wharfs. The folk that yelled and scattered had only a fleeting glimpse of a mailed figure on a black stallion, a wide scarlet cloak flowing out on the wind."
Yay Brandon Sanderson. Nice to see some love for my favorite author. Also I believe the main character from Elantris is called Raoden, but he later called himself Spirit I think?
Hey Shad, would love to hear your thoughts of the beginning of The Hobbit book
I'm so glad you started making these videos! My friend and I are working on a Fantasy Novel and this will really help!
Are you still taking and review manuscripts, Shad?I have a beginning I'd love feedback on.
Shad is a feckin legend. Shad, you feckin legend.
What medieval weapons would ANGLES, WITCHERS, DRAGON-RIDERS, WIZARDS, VAMPIRES, OR FAIRYS use? These are just some of the videos I want to see
Whoa, I was just starting to rewrite an older story idea, and looking up how to start a novel with a good first line/paragraph. Then I went to look at Shadiversity videos and found this!
This video made me realise that the last sentence of my prologue should be the first sentence. I've been struggling to get that first page right for so long, and the answer has been lying right in front of me!
Wtf u spoiled those books for me unsubedfuck you
Shad, I have to disagree with your assessment of the first chapter of Wheel of Time. Not that it isn't heavily reliant on prose, but the fact that it states a beginning took place, I feel, is indeed a proposal of events imminent to follow.
You may be a writer, and your name may be shad.but your not The Shad i know.
There was a soft, hesitant knock at the door, and opening it, I found a most hesitant gentleman with a rather shaky hand holding out a small, white card, which read, "Mr. Willow Whick, Expert and Author of Fairy Lore."
"A beginning is a very delicate time."
Hello! This is a very helpful video, as I am fairly young for writing novels, but this will help me attempt to write one ( it'll be pretty shit compared to others probably), so thank you and keep up the work!
A lot of novels I love start with infodumps, and I'm ok with that: I very happily accept the fact that I'm not jumping straight into the meat of the story in exchange for having a stronger setting foundation for my imagination to work on. In fact, I find that novels that start right in the middle of the action take a longer time to grab my interest, because if I don't have enough context to frame that action in my mind, I find that just boring and tiring. The fact that so many good novels would be rejected from modern publisher tells a sorry tale about the current publishing environment more than anything else.
The way I do beginnings (and my creative writing in general) is to insert hints to song lyrics I have stuck in my head at every opportunity.
Just a suggestion, but can you look at the defenses of Degroot Keep, a medievalcastle map in the game TF2. It has proper defenses, but it also doesn't.
I recommend every fantasy reader here to check out the Malazan series; it's up there with the others, trust me.
I'm one of those people who never had a problem with beginnings, just with middles.
Blazer or t-shirt, choose your destiny.
Shad, I just want to say that I honestly believe you are an archive of knowledge and a source of great intelligence. You manage to frequently sit down in front of your camera and talk about a subject for ten minutes straight with little to no script and always bring something genuinely new and helpful to whatever subject you are covering, even if you have covered it before. I eagerly await every new video, especially the ones about writing, as I myself am an aspiring novelist who you have helped to get over their writer's block. This is something few people could do - To stand up - or sit down - in front of a camera for ten minutes or more with no prompt apart from a basic idea of the subject you are covering and give helpful well explained advice non-stop. This is true mastery of the English language. The ability to convey this information without pre-determined sentences and to clearly state what you are saying without stutter or falter, almost instantly grasping the necessary words for your sentence. I myself would sit there for roughly a minute staring at the camera before saying something along the lines of this: "So, uh, y'know... You want to get, um, the, ah, hook-thing and... Y'know... That. Yeah." The most underappreciated of all wordsmiths is without a doubt the unprompted narrator. You are the true master of our language. Thank you.
The decreasing attention span of the modern consumer has created the notion that a lot of mediocre fantasy is actually good fantasy.
Start the generator! Bring on the music! Have the cooks prepare a feast! It’s time to celebrate! How's this for a first sentence? (yes not a strictly fantasy setting, but the the same rules should apply correct?)
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. :)
What do you think about(as a first sentences) " No kingdom outlasts time. Everything will come to its end, for when its day has come. Every king has to come to face that truth. And he cannot prepare when the end beginns." (i dont really write a book (yet) just thought id throw it in^^ )
Are you still accepting submissions for the whole writing reviewing thing?
Please, continue with videos about writing. Could you address how to overcome the writer's block?
Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was this youtuber who spent his time talking about CASTLES and MACHICOLATIONS... MACHICOLATIONS are interesting, really interesting, you should hear him talk about them. FARK HE LOVES THEM!
Love Patrick Rothfuss's book. But someone tell me what the hell "cut-flower" means?
For the fantasy castle review's I think I found a single impenetrable castle in a game.......... Kaer trolde from Witcher 3, ha debung that one
Hey Shad and Chat, I've got a question for you. Do you know any RPG videogames that actually employ range of melee weapons? As of today the only ones I saw was Skyrim and Albion Online.
Can we still send you samples of our writings?
Im gonna start a 8 chapter minecraft action book :) (im starting soon)
Hey would I send u my first chapter? would love your feed back.
Shad, you should do a look over of hyrule castle in breath of the wild, and some of the other Zelda games
How to start a novel: "In an age far forsaken and devoid of the meaningful truths we once held dear, brother I can only ask you this, what about the dragons?"
Wow a whole college class for free. Cheers for the shoutout I will watch all of that.
Thanks for the helpful vids.
I always make rough drafts so it's usually just an idea. Due to it only being an idea it never catches people's eyes. I expect my writing to be pure shit. So due to this it probably causes me to just delete everything I write.
Gay af
Great advice! Always a pleasure to learn from your videos!
You wanna write a good novel? Study Screenplays. For any good novel or movie there are formulas that have been proven to work. Learn these and they will help craft the novel greatly. You don't know but you see the same movie over and over again because they all use these formulas. Look it up.
I know I'm a tad late, but I've been watching all the writing related videos you've released, and they've helped me a lot. I'm currently working on the first book of a trilogy (a bit ambitious for my first novel, but hey), and I realized that I was in danger of info dumping a few times. Not on the first chapter, I was trying to sprinkle info lightly, but later on I was going to do some. As well as that, I started working on a "hook" sentence. The story itself starts out in a village in Hispania, around 265 AD. The hook sentence (or in this case, two sentences) is this: "Decimus Brutus Cornelius longed for the bustle and excitement of Rome. Such was the nature of his current situation, that he longed for something he would usually deem deplorable." I have no clue why I wrote such a long comment, but I just wanted to share my thanks. Keep up the great videos, dude! And remember....what about dragons?
"At the end of the world stands a castle." Is that a decent first sentence?
Throw mama..."The night was sultry".............."Im gonna kill her!"
Am I the only one who doesn't care about writing, but still loves these?
Do you want stuff in progress or stuff that's done? I've got a third of a novel currently
Shad! Would you consider making a video on what makes a good summary for your story?
"Write it, good!"
If I may be so bold as to ask.. how about curbing writer's block? That's always been my issue when it comes to writing. Because I have always wanted to write novels and such, but whenever I've tried, I could only go so far in before writer's block kicks my ass out of the game.
What I learned from reading into various authors - everything works. theres no rules.
"The mines of Tal are a dangerous place, not even gods and demons will set foot within its ancient walls." ~ Book of Kie
Morning fast approached, the sun rose swift and golden; the air was still as a lonely pond, the early birds sang, and my dick was still stuck in the neck of the beer bottle.
One of my favourite hooks is the beginning of the first Skulduggery Pleasant novel: Gordon Edgley's sudden death came as a shock to everyone - not least himself. -Derek Landy
The best opening line in my opinion is: In a second hand set of dimensions... an astral plane that was never meant to fly...
How to start a Novell Charles Dickens style: " Marley was dead: to begin with."

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How to write the start of a novel