The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of time. But it was a beginning.
This is the first paragraph of The Eye of the World, the first book in The Wheel of Time series. It's not without some polarized views, some critics find it a bit trite in it's self-obsessed grandiosity, but others, like myself, can't help but feel goosebumps when they read those words, which by the way, every book the series begins with some variation of.
It doesn't even maintain the writing perspective and is this omnipresent voice that soon gives away to a third person limited view.
However I cannot help but feel it is a goal for my own writing, and one that makes writing opening paragraphs particularly troublesome. It's because when I think of a fantasy opening paragraph, my mind always goes to The Wheel of Time. It's such an iconic opener that sticks with you that I feel if I don't at least reach for that level that I would be doing my own work a disservice. That whole grabs you by the collar and pulls you in type of hook upfront and center at the start of the story.
It's not even like this is a requirement of good writing. I can think of many well written books but if you asked me what the opening paragraph was, I would draw a blank. Not that the first paragraph wasn't also well written, but it doesn't have this grandiose promise of something fantastical to draw upon in the same way that The Wheel of Time does.
The other problem I feel is how much focus is given to many fledgling writers to hook the readers in early and pull them into your world in an interesting way that makes them want to stay. It's not a bad idea by any means, I mean if your beginning isn't strong you could have someone put your book down, never to resume after only a couple of pages, maybe even just a few sentences.
So if I try to make the best opening hook for my story and I think of the best opening hook I've read, in pops The Wheel of Time and it's establishing shot that both defines the very series itself and sets the stage for this amazing world while giving you very little about the actual plot, but it finds a great mechanism by which to flow from this omnipresent dialogue to the characters themselves.
Of course when it comes to writing such a strong opening, I sit and stare blankly at an empty text file. It's not that I don't know where I want my story to start, but every time I try to write it, it just doesn't have that pizazz and wow factor that I want, it always pales next to the greatness of what I want to capture, and yet at the same time avoid becoming noticeably derivative.
It's become such an issue with writing that I have avoided writing the beginning at all and gone on to write other scenes that occur later in the story, and every time I sit and think about writing the beginning, I tell myself "I'm not ready yet."
Do you ever feel similarly intimidated by the opening paragraph of your own stories?