Something Laura brought up in her comment on the previous post reminded me of another problem with episodic fiction or series books: the damn set-up. Like Laura ad her Esther books, I want people to be able to read the Liz books in any order, but I don’t want to spend the first pages saying, “Previously in Liz’s life . . .” Although now that I think of it, putting a Note at the beginning that says, “Previously . . . to mimic those TV shows is something to consider. Not for very long, of course, I’m very tetchy about my beginnings. You should start at the beginning, where the conflict starts, and go on until you get to the end. Which means no damn prologues. Another lousy beginning: starting in media res to hook the reader and then backtracking to the beginning of the novel. If you don’t have any more faith in your craft than to start with a cliffhanger and then retreat, work harder. Cliffhangers are awful no matter where you put them.
Of course, that’s my opinion. What’s your take on great beginnings?