If you're a novel writer struggling with how to open your story, here's a perfect example of the way to do it:
Read the first five pages of Richard Wright's "Native Son."
As a matter of fact, read the whole book. It's a significant piece of American literature, for it made Richard Wright the "Father of American Black literature."
But that opening scene... it's simply amazing. In the scene, the main character, Bigger Thomas, chases and kills a huge rat in his scuzzy Chicago tenement apartment, then makes his sister faint by dangling it in front of her face. The scene is solid action, and the language is breathtaking.
So there it is - if you don't know how to open your novel, start with a great action sequence. It's a surefire way to make sure your readers are hooked.
-- Matt Kelsey