Monday, July 23, 2012

Unhook Me Ten

Ten Things That May Indicate You've Written a McOpener

McBriefing: The lengthy line of dialogue you employ as your opener thoughtfully includes everything Bob and the reader need to know, thus rendering the first three chapters entirely unnecessary.

McDisneyish: You begin a story that could not be considered a fairytale by anyone, even crazy people, with any cutesy variation of Once upon a time . . .

McEuw: The analogy that kicks off your story compares a character to something highly unpleasant and uncomplimentary to them; this so everyone will have it straight from the start who the bad guy is.

McHiHowAreYa: You don't bother to write a first line at all but instead begin with a self-introducing character who sounds like they're standing at the podium during the meeting of any twelve-step program, i.e.: My name is Yada Yada, and I am a . . .

McInterruptus: You start at the promising midpoint of an intimate moment between characters, which on page two will come to a screeching halt due to a tragic accident, discovery by vengeful parent or spouse, or the arrival of the authorities to arrest (erroneously, of course) one of the lovers.

McLocal on the 8s: You've delivered a beautifully written, artfully descriptive, wholly lyrical narrative of that most riveting element of all stories, the current weather conditions.

McRambler: Your first line natters on and on like your Grandma Rosemary after she's had a few highballs at the family Thanksgiving reunion; it finally stutters to a stop somewhere in the last paragraph on the third or fourth page of your story. Bonus McPoints: As a kick of your heels at convention, you don't end your first line with a period.

McRIP: Someone expires in the first paragraph under strange circumstances, by a bizarre method or without any explanation at all. Bonus McPoints: deceased character will be the most interesting member of your cast.

McSlapdown: Assured that all authors are superior beings who must never apologize, explain or have any sort of congress with the great unwashed masses, you cleverly craft your first line to poorly veil your contempt for your reader, their beliefs, their politics, their life situation, or all of the above.

McWhattheheck?: While your first line contains several words in a foreign language, takes up at least one paragraph and possesses flawless iambic pentameter, no one, not even you, is quite sure exactly what it describes.


  1. Anne V.3:37 AM

    How sad is it that I think I have read most of these in books that were distributed to the public at large? Shouldn't that be considered reader abuse?

  2. Ren Benton9:28 AM

    Don't forget McGenealogy.

    While book browsing this weekend, I was accosted by three opening paragraphs along the lines of "Devlin St. Broodypants was the Viscount of Angstshire, son of the Marquess of Childabuse, grandson of the Duke of Philandery, a distant relation of the Prince of Persia, and heir to the tremendous sorrows that accompany a vast fortune."


  3. I too am seeing this kind of stuff all too often. And I just don't get it.

  4. And the McPrologue, the 10-12 pages of stuff that's really not important but the author couldn't bear to cut out.