by Kathleen Bradean
Recently, I beta read a friend’s fantasy novel. It was good once I got into it, but it took a long time to finish the first chapter because he used what I call the Sound of Music opening. If you’ve seen the movie The Sound of Music, you probably don’t remember the very long opening sequence that flies you over the alps forever, swings toward Salzburg (are we there yet?) picks an alpine meadow to focus on (are we there yet?) slowly brings your eye down to a young woman sauntering through the lush grass, gets closer and closer until you can see her face, then she twirls, opens her mouth, and begins to sing. You probably only remember the twirl and the singing. And do you know why? Because it’s action. It’s interesting. That's the place where the networks tend to begin the movie broadcast because they don’t want you to flip channels after two minutes of snowcapped peaks. Similarly, my friend’s opening chapter started with the long shot view of the mountains, slowly bringing the focus down to a little village as it talked about the weather, the economy, the political structure of the area and the geography. That kind of opening sequence is bound to lose readers. The TV networks figured this out, so should writers. My friend fixed that in his rewrite and it made a huge difference.