“Never start a novel with dialogue.”

I’ve seen this listed many times as one of the top ten rules for how not to start a story. And I can understand the reason why. Readers don’t know who the characters are, so why will they care enough to read on with a bit of random dialogue thrown at them in the first sentence.

(I’ve also been warned about starting sentences with ‘And’. All in all, I’m not very good at following the rules.)

So my second novel, Arc Over Time, starts this way:

“She calls, you go running.” Jasmine looked at her friend in disgust. “Aren’t you fed up being second best?”

Now, I suppose the purists could construe this as a disastrous beginning. But I like to leap straight into a scene and as this book is a sequel, my thought is that most readers will have read the first one, Starting Over. They will, therefore, have an inkling who Jasmine is and the relationship she’s referring to. The following paragraphs give more background information and, right or wrong, I felt that this opening was the best way to introduce the reader to the story.

Anyway, feel free to let me know what you think. Was this a good way to start, or not?

The first chapter is available to read on the Affinity website. (Arc Over Time will be released as an ebook on 15 May 2015.)

Arc Over Time by Jen Silver


Starting Over is available from Affinity eBook Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bella Books, Smashwords, and iTunes.

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7 comments on ““Never start a novel with dialogue.”

  1. I’m with you. I love to start books in the middle of a scene because I don’t want to read all the intro crap, so why would a reader? I think I’ve only started one novel with dialogue though, and that’s my May release. I think dialogue can do just as much for character building as narration, and people forget that easily.

    There are a lot of rules that I break in writing too. I think the only hard fast rule that we need to remember is to write what we want to write and not what we think we should write.

    Also, a quote to support my reasoning.

    “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” ~W. Somerset Maugham

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  2. Jen we must be kindred spirits, because initially I started my second book with dialogue. I changed it later to provide background first, but I have to admit to enjoying stories that start with a punch and for me that means dialogue sometimes. I am not at all bothered by books that start with dialogue. Since I am a new writer, I do bow to others that know a heck of a lot more than me! You go girl!

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  3. Pingback: News roundup: Goldie shortlists, a lot of blogging, new books and events! | UK Lesbian Fiction

  4. I completely agree with you. All my books start with short and punching dialogues. My debut novel also start with punching dialogue. I’m a person who likes to jump straight into the action. Then give long paragraphs of backstory.

    It is good start for me. It sucks me in all the time.

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