Beginnings are wonderful. They really are. Because a book doesn’t really begin there. A book usually begins in the middle of action of some kind. Dialogue, a search, a chase, something that grabs the reader’s attention.
It begins with a Hook.
A Hook is usually the first hint of trouble – trouble the hero doesn’t recognize or isn’t willing to admit. The Hook relates to the main plot – either the internal conflict or the external conflict.
A Hook’s mood will set up reader expectations. A Hook’s pace will set up reader expectations. A Hook’s conflict will set up reader expectations. Expectations for what? For the rest of the book. So when writing a Hook, think about what is typical for your book.
The Hook is your stepping stone to introducing your character and that character’s Ordinary World.
The Ordinary World is the setting, characters, tensions, and rules that surround your hero before the Inciting Incident. The Ordinary World shows your hero as he is before he begins to change. It shows the flaws he doesn’t recognize or doesn’t try to change (yet). It shows the inner conflict that he is doing nothing to resolve. It shows his relationships with supporting characters.
The Ordinary World is the setting for all action from the Hook until the advent of Big Trouble. Often writers build on the Hook by 1) dropping clues about the Big Trouble, 2) having the hero make choices that make the initial situation worse and worse – eventually causing the Big Trouble, or 3) having the Bad Guy thwart the hero’s goal no matter what the hero tries. And within the Ordinary World, the hero’s balance of normalcy becomes more and more difficult.
When you design your Ordinary World, keep in mind that it would be as different as possible from the Adventure World. Even if your character stays in the same town for the entire book, after the Big Trouble hits his world will change – inside and out.