It's often been stated that agents will read one or two paragraphs of an offering and decide from that if it's something they want to persue. This may seem blatently unfair to the writer-after all, you've just invested a lot of time and effort in producing a whole book and it's hard to think that 99% of that book might be ignored at first blush. But think about yourself as a reader; more often than not readers will peruse the offerings at a bookstore or on Amazon and decide on the basis of a page whether or not this is a book in which they want to invest their time and money.
What this should tell you is that a strong opening is paramont to selling a book. It's important to get it right. Let's look at what a good opening should do:
*Make the reader want more. Does the opening of your book or story make the reader wonder what happens next?
*Establish tone. What is the overall feeling that you are trying to evoke? Books can be funny, scary, fantastical, heartfelt, sensual, suspensful. Sometimes they can be more than one of these. This is tone and it has to be established right from the beginning.
*Involve the reader in the book's world. Every book is a world unto itself and the opening is the doorway to
that world. Where is your book set? In the suburbs? In a city? When is it? The here and now? The distant future? A time long past? Establish a sense of setting early.
*Introduce characters and situations. Who is the book about? And why should the reader want to journey through the story with them?
You may think that this is a lot to ask of a few paragraphs. Yes, dear writer, it is The opening of your book is a promise. It invites the reader to come in, pull up a chair, stay awhile. It promises that this book has a story to tell, a story that will hold the reader's interest from beginning to end.