Writing is one of the most effective and sustainable ways of earning an income and making a career. Writing is fun, and one learns a lot through the art of writing. A significant number of people have gone to become famous through the talent and effort of writing. For example, every American knows Harper Lee due to his immense contribution to the literary discourse in the book To Kill a Mockingbird. As a matter of fact, some Americans use this book as a form of moral barometer in their day to day life.
It is possible to be a Rebecca West or Ernest Hemingway, but this is going to take a lot of time and effort on your side. But one thing that writers always complain about is a cold pen and getting stuck. This can really drag you behind, and you must come up with the best ways of over-coming it. Do not wait for the magic of writing to get back to you. If you continue waiting, you are going to lose a lot of time.
A cold open is a writing style where you are going to hook the reader to an extent that he or she starts following your entire plot. Whereas this is achievable, it is not easy. It is called cold open because there is nothing, prior to the scene or page, that you can build up upon. In other words, it is the beginning of the story, and you need to attract the attention of the reader. Some scholars use the word teaser in order to describe a cold open.
This article will guide you on the tips for writers on handling a cold open.
Significance of a Cold Open
In creative writing, and in deed literature, it is assumed that you must prepare your audience early enough for the plot. However, this is not always the case. You can directly go, straight to the storyline.
There are several advantages of a cold open. To start with, a cold open can be used to invite the audience in, and make them part and parcel of the plot. The second thing is that a cold open can be used to contextualize the entire story. The audience gets to interact with the characters for the first time, and get to know about them. The reader knows that questions are going to be answered, and they are going to be answered in a comprehensive way.
There are some creative professionals who think that the best thing should come last. Nothing can be further from the truth. If you have the best jokes in comedy, do not save them for the latter episodes. Rather, think about how you can have them at the first scene. This is going to help you in hooking the reader.
The impact of the cold open also depends on the genre in question. For example, when it comes to a horror story, a cold open can be used to introduce a threat which is antagonistic in nature. Other genres are going to use the cold open as they so wish.
How to Write a Cold Open
As an author, take a lot of time thinking about your first few pages. These will be a make or break moment as far as your story line is concerned. If the readers or audience does not like the first few pages of your work, then your work is not going to record viewership or readership.
As an author, you can use the circular start in order to write a cold open. For instance, at the beginning of the story, the protagonist could be in crisis, and then go to the flashback. Citizen Kane, one of the most famous movies, starts with the present and then goes to the past.
An author can write a blindside cold open. For instance, a scene could start with all the signs of a break up, but as the scene continues, the couple in question breaks up. Then, that is known as a blindside cold open.
A slow burn is a technique which starts with a complicated story, with complex characters, and is full of suspense. Political dramas and war movies have a lot of this technique. The audience is constantly reminded of the major player in the story, and is able to develop a vivid memory of him.
Some authors choose to have a vivid description of the main character. So successful is this description that one can literary draw the main character. For example, in Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Obi Okonkwo, the main character, is described as hard-working, industrious, and a great wrestler. The author dedicates a lot of space to the description of the main character to an extent that the reader gives a vivid description of Obi Okonkwo.
As an author, think about how best you can arouse the curiosity of the audience, and retain it for that matter. You need to create an impression that you are a professional writer, and that you are ready to give your audience a presentable piece of work.
In order to write down a good cold open, you need to be good at breaking down the creative process into divisible components. You are going to have a structured process, and this structured process is going to enable you to come up with an effective and professional piece of work.
It is worth noting that when you are writing, you are actually engaging yourself in active learning. Nobody is going to show you how to write. Rather, you are going to learn this, step by step, as you make mistakes along the way. Some prefer using the word experimental learning in order to show that writing is a continuous process.
If your writing is short writing, and is geared towards a certain group of people, a seminar for instance, thinks about asking an open-ended question. An open-ended question helps in grabbing the attention of the reader, and this is done right away. The reader seeks knowledge, and this knowledge opens up slowly by slowly, as the questions are duly answered. You can start a cold open with writing a bold statement in the beginning of your work.
Other Tips for Writer’s on Handling a Cold Open
Do not be a generalist in writing. Rather, think about how you can narrow down your writing topics and how you can develop a niche. It is a negative thing to be a jerk of all trade and you might not be taken seriously with such a writing methodology. To jumpstart your writing career, ask yourself the following:
-Do you understand the complex nature of human relationships? Then you can write about love and romance, and be sure to hook the reader from the first few pages.
-Do you get thrilled by spy stories? Why not write about a spy who never got caught by the government. With this, you can write a very strong opening statement, and your cold open is going to be attractive to the readers.
-Do you like learning about medicine, healing, and diagnosis, then write medical stories, and hook your readers about them from the start.
- Are you doing technical writing such as crane rental in Michigan? You then have to do research if it’s not something you’re familiar with.
Get out of the comfort zone
If there is something that can hold you back as an individual, then that is staying and remaining within your comfort zone. This is not only harmful to your writing endeavor, but it gives you a reason to keep on postponing your writing objectives. If you come out of your comfort zone, you are going to gain new and unique experiences. In addition to that, you are going to inject your writing with authenticity.
For instance, if you want to write about the dangerous mines of South Africa, it would help if you would take a trip to South Africa and visit one of the biggest mines in the country. Through such an initiative, you are not going to learn firsthand about the experiences that the people of South Africa have, and how vulnerable they are to the conditions in the mines.
Similarly, if you want to cover fatal murders, the following can help you to make a decision that is going to be consequential and relevant to your future work:
-Learn psychology and explore why people are motivated to murder
-Because most of murder cases are publicized, attend court sessions related to the cases
-Speak to the victims of murder and understand their predicament
You need to understand that in the US, there is available funding on taking up writing seminars and workshops. Some have gone a step ahead in order to apply for a writing fellowship. It is due to such efforts that you are going to come up with a polished piece of writing. All these preparation is going to help you come up with a strong cold open that is going to be memorable.
Perhaps, you have taken writing as a full time job. Whereas this is good, you will realize that indoor jobs can be a stressing and can deny one of a formidable social life. There is a stereotype that writers are supposed to be introvert, that they lock themselves up, and do not want to interact. The fact is that even as you write, you need a balanced life.
You can achieve a work-life balance through going for walks, having a pet, and visiting friends. You can think about joining a book club where writing and socializing can go hand in hand, and you are not going to be stressed in the end. It is good you solve this issue early enough because you might find yourself writing for a big chunk of your life, and you do not want to regret later.
Anxiety in writing is about having negative feelings about a certain writing assignment, and sometimes, dropping it altogether. This has been observed among the writers for centuries, and it has killed dreams in writing. Like in other writing include the cold open, you have to think about how you are going to over-come anxiety.
The following are the main causes of anxiety in writing:
-Lack of experience on the potential topic that you are going to write about
-Having negative experiences in the past
-A deadline that is too soon for your convenience
-Being disinterested in the topic
-Life issues, divorce for instance
The solution to start writing when you are unable to is to simply start writing. Whereas this may seem a simplistic idea, it is an effective solution where one challenges the status quo and makes a deliberate effort to start writing.
As a good writer, you need to have a certain behavior that is going to boost your writing prospect. Think about the following:
-A writer should learn the art of eavesdropping (the best places for eveas dropping are coffee shops)
– Carry a notebook everywhere you go
-You need to be very systematic in your writing
-Never take a topic that you do not understand well (For example, you may think that you do understand the Israel-Palestine conflict, but that topic is a deep-rooted topic and it is complex in nature. Writing about it will require a lot of research and you need to set aside time for the same
-It is worth having a chat with writers who are more experienced than you. They have made mistakes, and they know how best to move forward. They are also critical in giving you insight on the best writing tips and methodology
-If you are enrolled in writing, course instructors can be an effective source of writing advice. For example, courses such as communication skills cut across many majors, and instructors of such courses will come in handy in giving you the much-needed advice on the best way of writing.
-If you are already chosen a certain niche or writing style, be sure to evaluate what others in the same field are doing, and evaluate what you can learn from them. However, be careful so that you are not accused of plagiarism
Getting optimal outcomes from writing takes a lot of time and effort, but it is worth it in the end. Therefore, think about the best ways of overcoming the challenges that you are facing, and think about how you can make the best out of writing. Writing a cold open remains a critical and consequential thing in writing. Perhaps, learning from your past mistakes is not a bad way to start.