View Full Version : The first page: What crosses the line?

Ghost Writer
03-27-2009, 12:09 AM
On the first page, how much detail would you put for a suicide where the character slits her writs? Backstory? Brief mention? A sentence of detail? More? Is this way of opening a YA horror/dark fantasy taboo?

03-27-2009, 12:33 AM
Almost nothing is "taboo," especially not in the realm of self-injury/suicide. You can go into as little or as MUCH detail as you want. A gritty first page will definitely draw some in, and those who are offended by it probably shouldn't be reading a book that starts with a suicide. On that note, it might help to look at the rest of your MS - does a detailed telling of a suicide fit the rest of your writing, or would it be out of place and set wrong expectations for the story.

Ghost Writer
03-27-2009, 12:59 AM
Thanks, Peachie.

The MS, at least the outline, calls for mostly dark. Not outright horror, but definitely dark.

I threw down the first chapter, then went to re-read for feel. A little squeamish, but not overly descriptive. Alternative? Make the first chapter a funeral and ease in smaller details of the suicide there rather than have the reader upfront and center. Small outline tweak.

03-27-2009, 06:39 PM
You can do as much as you want really, but one word of caution. Violence usually isn't as compelling as we think it is for readers. They see it all the time with news and TV. So if starting with something violent, don;t forget the emotional component as well, as the person is what is more likely to grab a reader's attention than a tragic act.

Ghost Writer
03-27-2009, 06:46 PM
Danthia - I agree wholeheartedly. I already realize it is going to be difficult to get the reader to feel for the character. It's about three lines worth. But yes, I'm going back and ensuring that the act doesn't overshadow the character or her reason behind the suicide.

It's why I nearly went with an alternate opening - a funeral. Still considering it, but at this point I think I might just continue on with the story, and see how it goes. And of course, checking this thread to see what other think/feel.

But yes, I think you're right - I'm going to have to work harder on the character if I let this be the opening page. Thanks!

03-27-2009, 07:28 PM
Peachiemkey had some great points. In my humble opinion, an opening of a funeral sounds cliche'. We see it in movies/TV shows frequently then it goes into flashbacks to bring viewers up to that point.

I'm intrigued for an opening chapter from the gal's POV. Is she scared? Committed? Resolved? Defeated? How does her body react to her emotions? Does she reflect on the process of getting to this point? To the pain of slitting her wrists? Is she fascinated once she gets beyond the pain to watch her blood ooze/spurt? What are her thoughts as she begins to get cold/lose consciousness? Does she regret her actions once she's beyond the point of no return? Sorry, my mind's running with things that could be fascinating. Could be a powerful chapter.

Again, peachiemkey made an excellent point about would the first chapter's writing match the rest of the book. Good luck!

Ghost Writer
03-27-2009, 07:43 PM
Oh! You have no idea how much I was hoping someone would come back and say that. I was prepared to do something different if I had to, though.

This story has hit me like a freight train.

Keep thoughts & questions coming, everyone!

03-27-2009, 10:41 PM
What's the most bizarre place you can think of for your protag to be dealing with the suicide? (that fits the story of course). Contradictions are often good beginnings because they challenge the reader's perceptions right away and intrigues them.

03-27-2009, 10:55 PM
Just from a writing standpoint, how important is this suicide to the story? Which details are especially relevant? Was it a knife or a razorblade? Does it matter? Use as much detail as is necessary to let the scene fulfill its purpose.

Ghost Writer
03-28-2009, 12:43 AM
Danthia - already have that one covered. While it isn't the weirdest, it's a place that has meaning to the character.

Neverage - vital, I think. I tried just having her die, and accident, all kinds of things. Nothing worked as well. I could simply have her OD, but that also didn't do it for me. (I sound so cruel to this character, don't I?)