How Long Should Your Story’s Opening Be?

Many writers often wonder how long or short their story’s opening should be. Read this excerpt from Hooked by Les Edgarton and find out what is the proper length for a story opening.

The primary requirement of an opening is that the first line plunges the reader into the story instantly. A slow, leisurely beginning is just not acceptable to readers these days, unless you’re a brand-name author whose fans will pick up anything and everything you write, or unless the book you’re working on is any but the first in a series. In both cases, waiting fans may be predisposed to wade through a lethargic opening; other books and stories won’t be granted a similar amount of patience by the reader. And while a slow beginning may sometimes be acceptable in a novel, rarely will such a beginning be tolerated in a short story.

So, what’s the proper length for a story opening? The answer is: As short as you can make it.

Open the story, show readers the problem via a scene, and then have your character get to work on the problem.

That’s it, pretty much.
Short and sweet does the work best.

Buy Hooked now!

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13 thoughts on “How Long Should Your Story’s Opening Be?

  1. meganwiens

    This article really helped me as a writer! I am currently working on writing a book, and these tips will really help me start it. The tip that stood out to me the most was, that your book should start with a problem to draw the reader in, and then the character has to solve that problem. This will really help me, thank you!

  2. williama

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  3. Phil Goetz

    I experimented with this using fan-fiction websites where you can count how many readers read each page of your story. The correct answer for me, based on experimenting with several stories on several websites and tracking the actions of several hundred readers, is that a typical reader will spot me 500 words. If I don’t write something gripping in those first 500 words, they leave.


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