Paper republic has a great post about the beginnings of Chinese novels. According to Howard Goldblat, a thirty year translator of Chinese novels, the Chinese don’t try to open a novel with a catchy first line, instead, they often refer to place. Golblat suggest that since place and history are so important to Chinese culture, references to place are so much more important than they are in western writing. Nothing is a 100% as Golblat points out, but it is an interesting insight. Well worth a read.