The Epic Opener to Netflix’s Vincenzo

Over the last eleven weeks, we’ve had a lot of blog posts and YouTube videos about what the setup is, the ingredients for a good one, tips for fixing it, and some things that you maybe want to save for later in your career before trying in your opening. It also needs to preface your book in a way that matches the energy of the rest of the manuscript.

This week, I really want to give you an example of what a good setup looks like—not really about having an opening line that’s super memorable, or having things in a set order, but a setup that achieves the goals of: 

  • Creating anticipation and understanding for the story to come
  • Showing your character’s momentum and depth (motion)
  • Focusing on what the known conflict is at the present time

The first thing when I thought of a good case study for setup and openings is Netflix’s Vincenzo. I watched this during the pandemic, and this show has stayed in my mind as one of my favorite K-dramas of all time.

Actually, it’s what got me into watching K-dramas in the first place, and everything I’ve watched after it struggles to match or meet my expectations (e.g. I like everything Song Joong-Ki has been in, and loved Man to Man,  but I didn’t LOVE them like I did Vincenzo). 

For the purposes of this case study, I highly recommend that you watch as you read the post. I’ve gone ahead and included the relevant timestamps so that you know when to start and stop watching and make sure that you don’t read ahead. The whole idea is for you to be able to watch and form your own expectations and conclusions, before reading mine.

I think this is a great opening because it is just so hooky and it does so much character work in a way that’s very implied and smooth (it’s so easy to brush it off as good without really diving into why it’s good). I have literally dared friends of mine to just watch the first 15 minutes and not continue watching (they all failed). 

So if mafia romance is your jam, you’re going to enjoy the heck out of this post.

Let’s do this.

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