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View Full Version : Things you should ABSOLUTELY not do in the opening paragraph



Susan Breen
04-03-2008, 03:49 PM
Recently I have read several stories in which the protagonist has farted in the opening paragraph, and although I hate to be too strict about rules and writing because I think we should have freedom to write what we want, etc. I am willing to state that if your character farts in the opening paragraph, your work is probably going to stink. Anyone else have immediate turn offs.

drachin8
04-03-2008, 04:18 PM
You've probably just tempted several people into starting off a story with farting just to see if they can pull it off.


:)

-Michelle

bluntforcetrauma
04-03-2008, 04:22 PM
I would put down the book right then unless it was called 'The Big Book On Farting'. Then it had better have flatulence aplenty.

Perks
04-03-2008, 04:24 PM
Recently I have read several stories in which the protagonist has farted in the opening paragraph What the hell are you reading, Susan? Don't make me assemble an intervention team.

I don't know that I'd have been able to think of an act in the opening sequence that would be an automatic deal-breaker until you mentioned farting. Mostly just poor writing will do it. But purgative body functions are probably not a great hook in most cases.

Nakhlasmoke
04-03-2008, 04:28 PM
I don't see why farting in the opening paragraph is an immediate turn-off, I mean, doesn't it all depend on character?

Julie Worth
04-03-2008, 04:30 PM
I'll give it a shot:

My sister called him Fartin John, said Id probably marry him one day. Fartin was oily fat and eked one out every few minutes. He always said pardon, though. I had to give him that much: for someone from where he came from, he had exquisite manners.

lakotagirl
04-03-2008, 04:35 PM
That works for me. I'd keep reading.

Susan Breen
04-03-2008, 04:42 PM
All right, Julie. So there is always an exception, and a good one at that, but I still think as a general rule, farting in opening paragraphs is to be avoided.

Mumut
04-03-2008, 04:48 PM
I would avoid it in any paragraph in a book. I can't tink of a reason for mentioning it.

auntybug
04-03-2008, 04:50 PM
Okay - not the worst thread ever...but up there ;)
:Trophy:

Jo
04-03-2008, 05:02 PM
I would avoid it in any paragraph in a book. I can't tink of a reason for mentioning it.

I've used it. It's a book for kids, though. Second chapter.

Kerr
04-03-2008, 05:21 PM
I do remember a boy in grade school who was always being sent out of the room. It didn't matter who the culprit was, he'd made a reputation, if the room suddenly smelled like a cesspool all eyes turned to him. I think farting belongs to humor. The right writer could have you crying with laughter. Romance? Pe-ew! It's definitely a genre issue.

Sassee
04-03-2008, 05:24 PM
I would avoid it in any paragraph in a book. I can't tink of a reason for mentioning it.

I used it as werewolf deterrent.

Mayntz
04-03-2008, 05:42 PM
I think it all depends on the character, the circumstances, and how it's handled by the writer. Off hand, it doesn't sound like the type of hook that would draw me in immediately, but you never know.

Siddow
04-03-2008, 05:48 PM
Susan, I think you should tell RumpleTumbler to find a new beta reader.

NicoleMD
04-03-2008, 06:05 PM
Coming from a gal who wrote a travel piece on poop (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=96020), I'd probably read on. My characters also tend to spend quite a bit of time in the bathroom. And my aliens have 17 types of secretions in which I go into some detail about. Hmmmm...

Nicole

Phaeal
04-03-2008, 06:07 PM
Well, J. D. Salinger places a fart early in The Catcher in the Rye, where it works beautifully. I can't find the quote right now, but here's the situation:

Holden remembers a pompous alumnus, who was speaking in the chapel of the school to the assembled students. One of the students gets off a real ripper in the middle of the speech, to the general delight of the oppressed ones. People try to persuade the farter to get off another ripper later, when the headmaster is chewing the school out, but the farter just doesn't feel like it. Farting is one of those things you have to feel like doing, Holden allows.

Julie Worth
04-03-2008, 06:21 PM
I can't find the quote right now...

Page 23: . . . then all of a sudden this guy sitting in the row in front of me, Edgar Marsalla, laid this terrific fart . . . we tried to get old Marsalla to rip off another . . .

kristie911
04-03-2008, 06:22 PM
Susan, I think you should tell RumpleTumbler to find a new beta reader.

:roll:

Phaeal
04-03-2008, 09:09 PM
Oh, and I'd rather read about farts than vomiting. At least you don't have to clean up after farts, apart from opening the windows. And don't get into the exceptions, please, or else. :guns:

RumpleTumbler
04-03-2008, 09:26 PM
Susan, I think you should tell RumpleTumbler to find a new beta reader.

I'm going to bring the seat of my chair to the next AWC meeting and present it to you on stage.

bluntforcetrauma
04-03-2008, 09:28 PM
Oh, and I'd rather read about farts than vomiting. At least you don't have to clean up after farts

have you ever tried to pass gas while stricken with a bout of diarrhea? it's just asking for trouble.

IceCreamEmpress
04-03-2008, 09:43 PM
have you ever tried to pass gas while stricken with a bout of diarrhea? it's just asking for trouble.

There's a word for that: sharting!

Susan Breen
04-03-2008, 09:47 PM
Oh dear. You are all wonderful, but for some reason the worst images are coming into my mind as I try to write today. :)

Autodidact
04-03-2008, 10:05 PM
Those writers, they're so intellectual.

Dave Barry has probably done it successfully.

I could probably use to never read another book in which the female protagonist appraises herself in the mirror on page 1, and she doesn't look bad for her age.

bluntforcetrauma
04-03-2008, 10:26 PM
There's a word for that: sharting!

i just increased my word power! thanks, ice cream princess!

BlueLucario
04-04-2008, 03:16 AM
I know something you should NOT so.

Never start a story with a description of the protragonist's nipples.

(Humor.)

Riley
04-04-2008, 05:51 AM
Once, one of my critique circle members opened up a story with a graphic description of a character's bowel movements. He was trying to be edgy and funny, but most of us in the circle went -squick-. When he revised the opening so that the character was still moving bowels, but was reflecting on certain events that happened the previous night, we still went -squick- but we were willing to read on because we were interested in the character's thoughts.

I think, for the most part, you can avoid the following things in an opening paragraph (there are always exceptions, so I'll just talk generalities here):

1. Farting (as the OP suggested)
2. Anything relating to the movement of the bowels
3. Graphic sex
4. Graphic/excessive violence/abuse
5. Graphic, heavy drug use

I noticed I used the word "graphic" a lot. In other words, if you open up and go into these things in detail, some readers will stop reading, others will skim, and maybe others will say "all right, farting, crapping, sexing, abuse, and drinking, all in the opening paragraph!"


Originally Posted by IceCreamEmpress
There's a word for that: sharting!

My sides are aching from laughter. That reminds me of a name I once gave to one of my characters. . . excuse me while I go-ahem-edit some things in a recent story of mine.


I know something you should NOT so.

Never start a story with a description of the protragonist's nipples.

(Humor.)

And why does this make me think of Hungry Woman?

Marian Perera
04-04-2008, 11:10 AM
Never start a story with a description of the protragonist's nipples.

(Humor.)

Lace II, by Shirley Conran : published exception.

BlueTexas
04-04-2008, 12:17 PM
Sharting? Oh man, I have to share that with someone's child, so they can say it for two weeks straight :)

OT, though, the short story Guts by Chuck Palahniuk, included in the novel Haunted. He violates every one of the should not's in that one, beginning on line 6. I won't tell you how he starts though; you have to read it to believe it.

BlueLucario
04-04-2008, 04:44 PM
I think, for the most part, you can avoid the following things in an opening paragraph (there are always exceptions, so I'll just talk generalities here):

1. Farting (as the OP suggested)
2. Anything relating to the movement of the bowels
3. Graphic sex
4. Graphic/excessive violence/abuse
5. Graphic, heavy drug use

I noticed I used the word "graphic" a lot. In other words, if you open up and go into these things in detail, some readers will stop reading, others will skim, and maybe others will say "all right, farting, crapping, sexing, abuse, and drinking, all in the opening paragraph!"

I thought the farting one was hilarious. It shows me that the protagonists have no class. #2 is so wrong, don't even go there.






And why does this make me think of Hungry Woman?

O_O!


Lace II, by Shirley Conran : published exception.

They actually do that in books? So wrong. >.<

Phaeal
04-04-2008, 06:04 PM
Dave Barry has probably done it successfully.



Farts are the very fountainhead of guy humor, as Barry rightly observes. Garrison Keillor also does farts well.

Belching, scratching of private parts, and snorting beer out the nose are the other great guy humor hallmarks.

Horseshoes
04-04-2008, 09:35 PM
Wait aminute, Sassee. The reason I have no werewolves is because I occasionally lean up on a cheek and let fly?
Interesting. Did not know about the werewoof deterrance in a poot.

Sharting...I learned it in Along Came Polly. Phillip Seymour Hoffman line.

Sassee
04-04-2008, 09:40 PM
Interesting. Did not know about the werewoof deterrance in a poot.

It's a bitch having such a heightened sense of smell ;)

<ducks thrown tomatoes>

BlueLucario
04-05-2008, 04:45 AM
scratching of private parts,.

Ewww... No wonder it should be avoided, since it's 'guy' humor. We don't know if a woman could be reading this.

Devil Ledbetter
04-05-2008, 05:20 AM
I'm just stunned that no one has posted the obligatory AWism: "if it's done well, it could work."

Ray is falling down on the job.

:roll:

Matera the Mad
04-05-2008, 05:25 AM
I don't know...maybe in a humorous tale of a vampire hunter who eats too much garlic.... I do it a lot while I'm writing, but my characters never let one off until at least the third chapter.

Jo
04-05-2008, 05:48 AM
http://www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au/images/cover_thumbs/0330362925.jpg

The Day My Bum Went Psycho Linky (http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/display_title.asp?ISBN=9780330362924&Author=Griffiths,%20Andy)

http://www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au/images/cover_thumbs/0330364251.jpg

Zombie Bums from Uranus Linky (http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/display_title.asp?ISBN=9780330364256&Author=Griffiths,%20Andy)

http://www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au/images/cover_thumbs/0330421972.jpg

Bumageddon Linky (http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/display_title.asp?ISBN=9780330421973&Author=Griffiths,%20Andy)

:D