Another thing I see in Theme of Absence submissions that I really don’t like is when a story begins and you have no idea who the story is about. And by that, I’m not talking about a story where several characters are introduced and you wonder which one is the protagonist.
I’m talking about those stories that begin with a character known simply as “he” or “she” where the first few paragraphs, or even pages, talking about this unknown character as she stares out at a beach or climbs a mountain or whatever.
The reason you shouldn’t do it: It’s difficult for a reader to care about what’s happening to a character in the opening scene if they have to spend mental energy guessing who that character actually is. If they don’t “know” the character, why should they care?
What you should do instead: Don’t be ambiguous. Give your character a name right away. You don’t have to be real telly about it, but give a little background or description as well. If the reader can identify with the character right from the start, they’ll be far more likely to invest more time seeing what happens to that character.
In the end, your biggest goal as a writer is too make your reader care. If you lose them on the first page with an ambiguous main character, you risk failing at keeping their attention.