Tuesday, June 27, 2006

That Non-Gripping Plane Opening

STATUS: Prep time. I have a trip to New York and RWA fast approaching so it’s time to set up my appointments.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? WALKING ON SUNSHINE by Katrina and The Waves

I’m convinced that one cannot be unhappy while this song is playing—that it’s literally physically impossible to be so because your foot is tapping uncontrollably.

Last night I had a chance to read the partials that Sara had set aside for me. I think there were eight or so. Out of that eight, three of the partials all had airplane openings—as in the main character is sitting in a seat on an airplane and flying somewhere. Usually there is an overly large person in the seat next to him or her.

I’ve seen this a lot recently. Enough to rant about it.

Hum… not very gripping. Why? Because there is nowhere to go from here. Unless you are doing the screenplay for SNAKES ON A PLANE, not much is going to happen in this opening scene because the real conflict (and any events that will convey it) will come when the character has reached the intended destination.

Basically, it’s a scene where the main character is discomfited by lack of space. Although I can greatly sympathize (I’m flying to New York in three weeks after all), it’s not gripping.

I’ve seen a couple of partials where the main protagonist was afraid of flying and the scene was probably meant to show the intensity or importance of having the character take this step (but is the fear of flying an essential character trait that must be revealed?). Not if it doesn’t play a role anywhere else in the novel.

Besides, I’m so bored by the opening scene, chances are good I won’t be reading further to find out.

Now I imagine that it is possible for a writer to create an absolutely thrilling opening plane scene (as it is about to crash or because the main character is a Federal Marshall, or something like that), I just have never seen it.

And, I have to admit, I’ve read one opening plane scene that kind of worked because the main character was a witch and she used a spell to comfort the frightened passenger next to her.

Still, I’m thinking that there is a more powerful scene out there to show off the witch’s talent.

So unless it’s an integral, absolutely imperative part of the plot, why not start the novel with a scene at the destination?