We've heard me gripe in the past about Easy Button Endings, where everything gets wrapped up a little too quickly and cleanly for things to quite make sense.
But, up there with Easy Button Endings might just be Easy Button Openers. How you open up a book, plot arch, or character is important. And, if you don't put the effort into opening them properly, there's going to be a sense on the part of the reader that it was rushed and doesn't quite fit.
Have you ever seen a movie where the villain walks in, kicks a puppy, and then insults his own mother? No, because that would be like hanging a giant, glowing sign above his head announcing I AM THE BAD GUY. But, you know, I've seen some openers that come pretty close. I've seen movies where one of the first things you see the new villain do is shoot some pretty, young thing dead for little reason, and then the camera stays on that so you can remember that he's not a nice guy. To my mind, not subtle.
We like subtlety. We like nuance. It makes characters more interesting and believable. It gives people a chance to find something to love in the villain so that they can feel more like they're reading about real people instead of a cardboard cut-out of a bad guy.
Writing a good opening is hard. Just like all good writing is hard. But we owe it to readers to figure out how to tell the story right. We owe it to our characters. We owe it to ourselves. Because it's worth it.
Ever seen any openers that made you want to drop the book and run? Any that you thought were just so incredibly awesome? How's your writing going?