The beginning. Just like with a story, though, it’s important to know where to begin.
I actually end up doing my best in the beginning of my stories. My characters are strong. My dialogue is snappy and my descriptions are floral, but not quite violet yet. I love the story. I love the characters. I want to write forever.
The the middle comes… But that’s a different blog post. This one is about my views on Beginnings ™.
As I said before, I think I love my beginnings because I spend a lot of time thinking of where they should start. Too far in the past, and the hero’s journey is delayed in the pre-quest, ordinary world that can bore people. Too far in the future, your reader might not know what’s happening or where the plot is. Some novels I’ve read have recovered from this, but sometimes it’s more of a chore for me to read than it should be.
So when I start writing my beginnings, I try to think of those scenes right before everything changes. Before the call to action happens, when I can show the normal life. I make sure that there’s something going on – it has to be exciting – and that my main character is front and center. Don’t have the first character your reader meets for an extended period be a secondary or side character. If that happens, maybe reassess whose story it is.
When editing, I think that most people end up changing the beginning in some way. Usually moving it forward to where the action starts, or when the main character starts to get himself or herself into trouble. I’ve had some novels like that.
My current novel, Depleted, starts right when Frankie (the main character) meets the man who is going to change her life by suggesting that her “lack” of alchemical talent isn’t a failing. She just learns differently. I have a fear right now (at 22k in) that the plot has taken far too long to start, but that’s what editing will be for when it’s all said and done.
Is this a problem with the beginning? Maybe. But sometimes, during my edits and revisions, the beginning ends up being the last thing I write.