The hardest part of starting a story is facing that blinking cursor on the blank page as you try to develop a story. After all, you must write a good introduction in order to entice the audience to read more. Aside from that, you must write in a way that somehow introduces your characters in a way that they become likable people while also building a world around them that is somehow both interesting and plausible. Furthermore, you must write every detail in an elegant manner and not make it clumsily. Such is the pain of trying to find your novel’s footing.
Take Bernie McAuley’s “The Shadows of Sawtooth Ridge .” This is a book about an airline pilot who is in a lot of trouble losing his job because of his recurring nightmares. His experiences in the Vietnam War bring on these nightmares. Aside from that, he needs to feed and take care of his two children and try to take care of the ranch he grew up in that is about to be sold.
In the first few pages of the book, we are introduced to Larry, a pretty sympathetic character. Though most of us may not relate to the fact that he is a Vietnam War Veteran, we can still sympathize with his troubles. How many of us have been in trouble at our job just because we have trouble sleeping? Whether because of a hangover or some trauma, working while lacking sleep is something most struggle with. That is how we can relate and invest our character.
Though this is not the only way we make him relatable, at the very least, some readers may really have PTSD because of their experiences in Vietnam. In any case, the author is successful in making his character sympathetic while also telling the readers about his future struggles. Will he be able to save the ranch where he grew up? Will he save enough money to make a comfortable life for his sons?
In just the first chapter, author Bernie McAuley has shown us the character of Larry while also making us invested in his problems. We know he needs to be a father for his two kids while also trying to save. We already know his problems, and somehow we can guess what he is about to do. Now, as readers, we are in for the ride. We want to follow Larry’s life and see if he can really accomplish the things that he needs in the end.
What author Bernie McAuley has shown us is writing economically. By just using the first few pages of his book, we get to know Larry, his problems, his friends, family, and foes, and the problems that face him. In just the first few pages, we want to know more about Larry and root for him. This is what writing economically does, in the smallest amount of words possible.
Now, while writing economically may not make for an overall good novel, it does make for a perfect intro, and most of the time, that’s what you will need. You see, introductions are significant as they open up the world of the story. With a good intro, the novel can state what it is about and what it is not. This is important as we want to pick readers that want the book for what it is. Think of the book’s intro as an elevator pitch for your story. We need to convince our readers that our book is worth reading, but we must also ensure that our book is given to the hands of the right audience. Excellent and economical intros make the job easier for both the writers and the readers.
You can grab a copy of Bernie McAuley’s “Shadows of Sawtooth Ridge” by visiting the author’s website.