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Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel Revised and Expanded Edition, 2nd Edition by Sara Paretsky, Hallie Ephron

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Chapter 11

Writing a Dramatic Opening

“I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one.”

—Flannery O’Connor

No pressure, but the opening of your book is the gatekeeper in determining whether your novel will sell. If your opening is weak, it won’t matter if chapter two is a masterpiece. Editors and agents and booksellers and librarians and readers will stop reading before they get there.

If you completed your blueprint, you’ve already scoped out a dramatic scene to open your novel. You know who’s in the scene and what’s going to happen to propel the novel forward.

Your opening scene can be long or short. It can be action packed, or moody and rich in description, or skeletal and spare. It may contain a vivid sense ...

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