Got your attention? Good.
This week I want to talk a bit about beginnings. How good are you at starting your stories? Do you start with a bang or with a whimper (ie. a slow build)? I used to be in Camp B. My first draft of 151 started off with a 4 (!!!!) Chapter "Prologue" sequence, with a slow, ominous build, until finally... at the end of Chapter 6 (!!!!!) you get to meet our hero.
I'm in a different Camp now: Camp A. Camp A says, dispense with the pleasantries, and get started already! Heck, don't just get started, drop people into something that has already started. Not only that, drop them into the biggest, most exciting, intense, emotionally scarring, surprising, shocking, blow-me-away part of your MS. Then go from there...
Proof? Check out the beginning of this blog post. OR check out the three videos below. They're all from James Bond films, and all are pretitles sequences (ie. before the butter on your popcorn is dry, you're seeing this). They do an amazing job of creating intensity (whether physical or emotional), drawing you into the next two hours, and yes... getting your attention.
So if you need some inspiration... just "start it like a Bond Film" :)
Emotional Intensity — Casino Royale (2006)
One of my favourite openings for a Bond film. Bond surprises a traitorous agent in his dark, foreboding office, and then they have a tense chat about how many kills one needs to become a 00 Agent. All this leads to—of course—Bond killing the traitor to get 00 Status. Although there is action woven in here, this is all about the build up to that final kill. Very intense! Also, notice how going with black and white gave it a film noir-type look, which adds to the intensity.
Emotion + Action — From Russia with Love (1963)
This is the first pretitle sequence that came to my mind, mainly because it is so memorable. I call it emotion + action because here there is a lot of moving around, whereas in Casino Royale, it's the discussion that's intense. Open on a dark, mysterious hedge maze, where Bond seems to be running for his life. This is followed by lots of sneaking around, some near misses, and then, finally a quick struggle to the death with an assassin. Plus, a twist at the end! Overall, a very satisfying experience in less than 2 minutes.
Action — GoldenEye (1995)
This is the longest of the three, perhaps because it is that big, honking action set-piece that I mentioned above. Although there are a lot of cool action scenes in this movie, this one features (1) bungee jump off a HUGE dam, (2) an infiltration of a heavily armed facility, (3) planting bombs, (4) getting captured and having your partner get killed, (5) an explosive escape, (6) driving a motorcycle off of a cliff and then skydiving into a plane. Need I say more? (PS: Only the bungee jump is included here.)
Don't forget to check out the Blog Hop, and join in, too!
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