Do - a deer, a female deer

Yes, let's start from the very beginning, because it's a lot less effort than tramping all they way along to the middle and starting there... Or is it? Well, yes, because you have to do all that tramping, but I think the view from over there is much nicer than the one over here. And before you say anything, yes: this does make perfect sense.

As you know, I've been thinking a lot about beginnings, because I'm about to launch into that of my fourth book. Like a good little researchy write-ist I've been looking at a lot of other people's beginnings and when it comes to crime there seem to be a few 'classics'.

  1. Open with a bit from the bad guy's perspective -- this is something I've used a lot myself: COLD GRANITE, DYING LIGHT, and now BROKEN SKIN. Yes, with the third book I gave the cliché what I hope is a hefty twist, but I don't think I can do it again for a while, or it's going to get repetitive.
  2. Open from the victim's perspective -- not something I've done yet, possibly because I'm only an honorary lesbian, but again something that happens a lot in other people's books. Plus I worry that it can get a bit salacious, especially given what's going to happen to the poor bastards in Book 4.
  3. Open on something innocuous -- not something you see a lot of, because we all know the necessity of grabbing readers by the gonads and not letting go.
  4. Open with a chase, or some other contrived action sequence -- because it creates a sense of urgency and people like to be excited. Sometimes with a jar of peanut butter and a feather boa.
  5. Open with the discovery of a body -- an old favourite and standby format for pretty much everyone. It was how DYING LIGHT was going to start, but I ended up putting in the first chapter about the fire instead.

I think my favourite opening of all times (steady vicar) is John Carpenter's THE THING. OK, so it's not a book, it's a film, but it's brilliant. A bunch of Norwegians trying to shoot a dog from a helicopter. No explanation, no preamble, nothing -- straight into the middle of the story. I would love to be able to write that well. To produce something that has people going, "What the fudgemonkeys?"* but still be strong enough to drag them along by the gonads. An opening that goes, "I'm telling you fuck all**, just read you bastards***, READ!"

Ah well, it's a dream, isn't it?

The trouble with using that as an example of the pinnacle of openings is that I'm now looking at the idea for the start of Book Number The Fourth in a less than favourable light. It's not as good as the start of The Thing.

And now I'm all depressed.

So, OK, what's your favourite start to a book / film / narrative thing? Is there anything left that's not been done to death, or should we just look on these things as the quaint conventions of our genre and get on with it? Whatever the hell our genre is...

* Because, obviously, my readers are far too polite to swear.
** Because, obviously, I'm nowhere near as clever, or highbrow as the people what do read my stuff.
*** and I mean that in a nice, cuddly way.