Book One of The Belgariad: a gateway to wonderful new worlds that don’t have Hogwarts or Muggles.
There is no doubt that J. K. Rowling‘s book series is definitely a wonderful phenomenon: the number of children (and adults!) who now know the value of reading a book has increased, for instance. And the whole “fantasy” genre now has substantially more visibility in the mind of the average person-in-the-street. And that’s without remembering that Twilight is fantasy. And so is Pirates Of The Carribean. And so is Star Wars.
Stories that invoke or are set in fantastical worlds have been with us for centuries. And the rise of the novel in more recent ones has been inextricably linked to Fantasy as a genre.
So I am somewhat annoyed to see that high-school students when faced with a fantasy element in their daily lives (such as me wearing a cloak on the train) fall back on Harry Potter to call it out.
Whenever you set out to learn a new skill, there is always a point right at the start where you can look at the same thing done by someone so much more experienced than you. Often, this is the inspiration to learn in the first place, it is why you sought out lessons, or bought a new how-to book, or cajoled a friend into guiding you forward. It is the “I want to do that!” moment.
First of all, don’t ever forget that that happened. No matter what the impetus, there was a reason you took leatherworking classes, or borrowed a book about raising cats, or whatever it was. You may not remember just what it was, but that’s okay: there was a starting point. It happened.
The start of any piece of writing is important. It sets the tone and feel for what comes after. Getting the start right is sometimes held up as being a difficult as planning the entire remainer of the work.
So what was considered a good start to a novel fifty years ago?