Start Off a Book Right


I've been fascinated with Science Fiction for forever and a day. The genre of Science Fiction that fascinates me the most is the military academy story. That, plus the "Coming of Age" story in its many facets fills my heart and entertains. I find these qualities reflected in the realm of Science Fiction in the titles of "Enders Game," "Starship Troopers," and "First Contact."

What's important, is that the first sentence, first paragraph and first scene set the tone for the rest of the book.

  • Are you into soliloquy? - "Damn. The door's locked."
  • Flowery literature? - The moonbeams waltzed right in.
  • Name and abrupt? - Jesse woke cold.

In my apprenticeship days, those days spent writing whatever came to mind. I wrote a beginning sequence. It began, something like, "There was a knock at the door, twice rapped."

It became...

Jill was startled from her studies by a knock at the door, twice rapped. There followed a pause in which Jill expected the door to open and one of the other cadets to enter. Though no jiggle of the door handle came or press on the door to warn her of someone’s entry.
“Elvandra, display the hall please,” she asked the ship computer, hoping that the computer was indeed working correctly again. Another diagram replaced the one she had displayed of military justice procedures and she looked out on the hall, there was nobody there. She adjusted the viewpoint, but she could see no one. “Elvandra, are you malfunctioning again?”
“Cadet you are in error, there is no malfunction,” the computer countered her. “What is it you seek?” It tried to redirect the cadet’s inquiry, hoping to ease the situation between the cadet and herself. She knew the cadet had just hyper-threaded its code sequence, she didn’t even know where she’d been thinking; the cadet had shut off those memories from her. She didn’t like it that a cadet had access to her core processes.

I may get back to that story someday, but it contains many flaws.

What entertains me are the "What if's?" of writing. Who or What is behind the dorm room door?

Of course setting is important. It is unlikely to be an Elf Lord asking for a Popsicle, since we're talking Science Fiction, but if it was your story, what would you do?


Note: This post was resurrected from my old site. It may not be the one that showed up on the site. The date of publication here is from when it was added to this site.