Today I’m gonna teach you how to create a powerful opening scene that catches the attention of your reader or viewer right at the beginning. It’s a theme similar to the one we explored in the essay about The Last Of Us, where we talked about prologues and plot structures, and this essay will be a complement.
If you wanna be a successful writer, you first need to understand that people have lots of things to do, so they will not waste time on your story if it’s not exciting right from the beginning. Most likely, they will close it and do something else. Watch the Kardashians, you might say.
That’s why is so important to start a story with impact. And is there any franchise that do it better than 007? The most famous secret agent of pop culture is really successful when it comes to audience, that we all know. But how does James Bond capture our attention?
First, I would say that the style and elegance of the film are two excellent points to consider.
Before talking about action, we will focus a little bit on the style of the franchise 007. Okay, maybe you hate spy movies, the damn Hollywood and preach about the supremacy of the Thai movies that deal with the human soul so purely and dissects it completely in its essence. Okay, we, ordinary human beings fans of a good entertainment understand it. But, hey, come on … I bet you get excited when you hear the themes of 007 at the beginning of each movie and see him shooting in the direction of the screen, don’t you? You can admit it, we are among friends here. You won’t be expelled from the private group of intellectuals (but if it happens, be grateful).
I always come back to watch Spectre because of the theme song in the beginning. And no, simply listening to it on YouTube is not enough. I like the opening sequence that leads to it and the emotion that it creates. I like the way we are transferred from action to a calm scene through the theme song. This type of transition is a great triumph.
In fact, here’s a lesson: create transitions from fast moments to calm moments. Surely that in the literature you don’t have the option of using a song for this purpose (not in a paper book at least), but learn how to create a balance in the rhythm.
No one enjoys reading ten chapters of pure action. Instead, mix in these ten chapters elements that will go from action to drama and even the romance, depending on the story that you are telling.
The introductions of 007 have their own identity. They’re usually elegant, both in their visual and songs, and this is a great attractive to the public. We like beauty. We like show. We like to have something to applaud.
“Okay, Erwin, but i’m just interested in writing a story, not in creating a super production and hire a singer to make a special song for me. I’m poor just like you, not a multi-millionaire entrepreneur from the film industry.”
I understand, my friend, and the truth is that you can create a stylish and unique beginning only with literary elements. If money were everything, Michael Bay would produce only masterpieces.
If you are writing a screenplay, create your own style through the dialogues. It’s what Pulp Fiction does in that opening scene where we see two people talking in a restaurant, so we have the credits and then Jules and Vincent talking in the car. It didn’t take large budget to create those scenes, and I’m sure it was better than many movies that cost billions of dollars to produce. It’s that old story of what the whore said to the boy: it’s not what you have, but how you use it.
Write exciting and real dialogues. Make it the identity of your story.
If you are writing a book instead of a screenplay, the dialogues are also a good tip, but I’d like to add a few more here.
The first is: play with language. No, I’m not telling you to play James Joyce and kill half your readers of boredom. But what you can do is play with the tenses, change the narration from first to second person and use repetitions.
Chuck Palahniuk uses this style of short and agile sentences very much. He also bets a lot on repeating sentences, which you should give a chance to if you like that style. And it’s a style that I find quite attractive, by the way.
But when we talk about publications on digital platforms, there is one more thing that you should bet on to create your own style: art.
Many writers like to create illustrations with the scenarios and appearance of the main characters on Wattpad, as well as putting flashy images at the top of each chapter. Others make playlists and maps. If you publish on such a platform, I strongly suggest that you bet on art to create your own style.
Remember: we are always attracted to what is beautiful and elegant.
Okay, so there you are with the writing style in mind, the illustrations and a nifty playlist. Maybe you have even made a book trailer for your book. Congratulations! But, hey … You still need to know what to write, don’t you?
And that’s where James Bond comes in. Think about the beginning of the 007 movies you watched. Notice how fast they are, often with chases and shots. You begin already within the action and focused on what’s going on. Here’s the magic.
Start a story quickly. Abuse of action, emotion and quick dialogues.
You don’t necessarily have to start with your character chasing another with a gun in hand if your story is about, let’s say, a Portuguese couple who falls in love in the eighteenth century and cannot stay together because the broken-hearted young man needs to take care of his lands on another place. It would be a horrible story, let’s be honest, but you could bring the James Bond style to it through discussions, for example. Put two characters to have an argument, making the reader stop and pay attention indeed. Everyone loves a good fight. I don’t know why, but they love it.
And it’s not just the 007 franchise that starts their movies like that. Star Wars, Indiana Jones and many other franchises follow the same path. Just after the bustling start is that we are led to the introduction of the character, often with a monotonous life before the call to adventure. This break of rhythm is a great way to keep the story running without becoming boring or, worse, something like Transformers.
The more you write, the easier it will become to create an engaging beginning. Like everything in writing, it’s necessary to put a lot of effort before reaching a satisfactory skill level.
But don’t worry, the effort is always worth it in the end.
Do you want more writing tips?
Follow me on my social medias: