5. Pose a Question in the Opening

5.          Lead readers to the story, but don’t drag them.  Set up your opening scenes so readers are led to ask story questions like “Who killed the film director?” or “What will happen to John and Sue’s  love when Sue learns that John has been lying to her?”  The posing of the questions, and the desire to find the answers, keeps readers turning pages.  That’s called narrative drive.  The story question is also an excellent tool to help the writer keep on track.

Example:  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone opens with the baby Harry, branded with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead, being delivered to relatives who are frightened of him and who refuse to tell him why. This causes the reader to ask why would an aunt and uncle fear a tiny child, and yet still take him in. One answer (that Harry is a wizard with magical skills) is presented fairly soon, but what happened to him, why he is scarred, and what he can do take years of book time, and six other books, to be fully explained. 

Your turn! Consider your opening chapters. How can you set up questions for the reader to ask? Then, scouting ahead, you can consider where and when and how to answer them.