Opening scenes are hard. They have to do a lot. They have to introduce your characters. They have to set the tone for the story. They have to set the reader’s expectations.
This last item is probably the biggest one, and it’s why getting the opening right is so very important. So I’m going to jump right to the best opening sequence I’ve seen. It’s not from a book, however, it’s from a movie.
That movie is Deadpool. Just watch this:
Everything you need to know about the movie is right there in the Opening Credits. You can tell right away this is a movie that’s full of action but doesn’t take itself seriously. There’s violence but there’s also frat humor and foul language. No one could watch the opening sequence and think this movie was your typical superhero movie. It wasn’t another Avengers movie, and it definitely wasn’t Superman. Viewer’s expectations are set and everyone could settle in knowing exactly what type of ride they were about to go on.
Now imagine if the movie was meant to be the next Batman vs Superman. The opening sequence we just watched would have set the wrong expectations. Audiences would have been extremely disappointed and let down. The reviews would have been vicious.
This is not something you want to happen with your books! So craft your opening scene with the same care that went into Deadpool. And then follow through on that promise. Because that’s what the opening scene is – a promise to your readers. If you start out with a comedic opening, then your story needs to continue the funny. If you open with a big dramatic scene set in the 18th century and then halfway through aliens show up, your readers will feel cheated.
It all starts with the opening scene. Nail that and readers will be willing to follow where you lead. Betray your readers, however, and they will not be kind.