Avoid Opening With Dialogue

Benjamin Percy

It’s a typical pet peeve of editors and agents: Stories that begin with dialogue.

In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, author Benjamin Percy explains why a dialogue opening is so often ineffective:

When a reader first picks up a story, they are like a coma patient—fluttering open their eyes in an unfamiliar world, wondering, where am I, when am I, who am I? The writer has an obligation to quickly and efficiently orient.

Which is why writers should avoid opening with dialogue. I know, I know—you can think of ten thousand awesome stories that do exactly that. I don’t like any them.

Read more of Percy’s essay—in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin—by clicking here.

Or read two other essays from the bulletin:

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Posted in Writing Advice and tagged , , .

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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