Magic Bites starts out great. I know I've been talking about beginnings a lot lately, but please allow me to do so again. They're one of the most important things in a story. They're what draws a reader in, making her want to read more. And they also establish the normal for the story's world.
Andrews sets the baseline right away. We're clearly in a world where magic is the norm: "I sat at a table in my shadowy kitchen, staring down a bottle of Boone's Farm Hard Lemonade, when a magic fluctuation hit. My wards shivered and died, leaving my house stripped of its defenses. The TV flared into life, unnaturally loud in the empty house. / I raised my eyebrow at the bottle and bet it that another urgent bulletin was on" (1). This is just the first two paragraphs, and from it we can ascertain that these magic fluctuations are a common occurrence, plus the main character isn't phased by them. These are things a reader needs to know right away.
Not only does it show us what's normal in this world, it also clearly establishes genre. In these first four sentences, we also know that this is an urban fantasy. The TV and the hard lemonade give us the urban, and the magic clearly makes it fantasy. It lets the reader know what she's about to read, what she's getting herself into. You can't wait too long in a story to establish these things, or the reader will be thrown for a loop when magic hits the page several chapters later.
And this is an opening that also drew me in immediately. I wanted answers. What's this magic fluctuation? What does it mean now that her wards are down? Oh, something is about to happen, what is it?
So much from just four sentences.
What are some of your favorite beginnings?
Andrews, Ilona. Magic Bites. New York: Ace Books, 2007.
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