Why is the opening important? It’s important because a writer or storymaker needs to catch the reader’s attention from the start. Otherwise they may drop your book like a hot potato and pick up a video game or DVD. And if you think your story starts slow, but builds into a page-turning thriller, you’ve still lost because you don’t get to prod readers to the next lifeless page -- “Oh, it gets really good after page 11, just keep reading a few more pages. You’ll love it. I swear.”
Hooked is an entertaining read and provides numerous examples of good openings. And a good opening also helps assure your story has a sound structure because a story-worthy problem is part of the formula for a good opening. The best metaphor I’ve heard about story problems comes from James Bonnet’s seminar -- “Look at story through the eyes of the problem.” In Jaws, the movie doesn’t spend ten minutes showing the shark swimming along the Maine coast line chasing sea lions or splashing about. No, the movie gets to the problem -- a shark chomping on humans.
According to Mr. Edgerton, we learn to read through movies; that’s why we now expect an opening that gets right to it. The opening should be "chock-full of trouble and the promise of trouble."
If, after reading your opening, people turn to each other and say, “Man, how is that problem gonna get solved," you have a story-worthy problem. A good opening is the clue to your readers that you are a pro and know how to write. A good opening compels them to turn the next page, and the next, and keep reading.