The screenwriter William Goldman has this advice about beginnings: ‘We must enter all scenes as late as possible. We must enter our story as late as possible.’1 While it’s true that cinema is a less patient medium than, for instance, the novel, my view is that fiction readers are impatient enough. I regularly receive student work in which the story doesn’t actually begin until late on page 1, 2, or 3. Sometimes this is because the authors don’t discover what the story is about until they have warmed up their engines. Sometimes it’s because they aren’t fully aware of the reader’s need to commit to the story.
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