Near the Lighthouse, Atlantic City, New Jersey,
William Trost Richards,
watercolor with touches of Chinese white, 1873.
Another perennial controversy erupted after Nathan Bransford's First Page Challenge between those who write what is described sometimes as a "slow" beginning vs. those who begin with a bang.
Bang being taken, of course, in all it's idiomatic aspects.
As usual in these simplifications, the lines often quickly divide between those who fear dismissal if their story does not begin with a body (separated into its component parts or not) and those who resent having their bang-up beginning categorized as a parlour trick/gimmick by the more literary crowd.
The more vociferous of both camps appear to forget that the purpose of the beginning is to engage the reader. To interest the reader in what comes next.
It's the writer's prose/perceptions -- not always the particular incident -- which creates that interest.
And there is more than one way accomplish that end.
A body in a belfry is not particularly useful if the reader is immediately presented with a meandering dissertation about the architectural style and history of the belfry's construction and the order of service that particular day. Shock 'n awe may evaporate into boredom by three sentences.
Neither is the reader necessarily engaged by an esoteric description of the belfry's archetectural style, the color of the light reflecting off it, and a history of its construction before we get to the minor detail of the body hanging therefrom. Boredom may have set in at the beginning.
Either or neither, the slow build up or the in medias res beginning may engage the reader -- bearing in mind that certain genres promote reader expectation towards one method or another.
Nevertheless, an interesting first page is vital to a WIP.
Evil Editor frequently critiques first pages in his New Beginnings.
Ray Rhamey of Flogging the Quill does it three times a week for the moment.
And BookEnds is hosting a first 100 words contest conveniently broken down into different categories, so comparisons are more acute.