Opening lines. The all-important first pages.
First of, I just want to say this. Beginnings are HARD.
At least, they are for me.
I always have this image in my head. One particular scene that is my inspiration for the manuscript. But beginnings aren't about the idea or the inspiration. Starting with your point of inspiration will usually leave your reader oh-so confused. Half the time they don't seem to have anything to do with the plot. Beginnings are about introductions, a chance to show your characters and your world when the status quo is settled, before the big shake up that is your plot device arrives.
And because of this, beginnings can be difficult to write. They aren't the big action sequence we can't wait to get to, and they aren't the epic kiss/makeout/etc scene we really REALLY want to write. They aren't the shake up that gets the story moving. In a word, we might even find them boring.
Which is a mistake. If we, as writers, find our beginnings boring, how bad is it going to be for our readers??
It's an important question.
I'll admit, I have a hard time with my beginnings. With my first manuscript, Fireborn, I originally started it from what is now part 3, got to the end, and realized that prologue I wrote? Yeah, that was half the story there, and I needed to go back and rewrite the entire thing because I was missing half the story. Even then, the beginning didn't solidify until after a full year of revisions, when I finally figured out where it needed to start. And I've ripped it apart a few times since.
With my second, my major revisions were all to - you guessed it - the beginning. I'd left out two important supporting characters, and by backtracking to the beginning, and putting them in where they should have been, I opened up a whole new side to one of my main characters.
Every manuscript I write, the beginning ties me up. I've learned that I have to just get something down and get the thing started so I can get the whole thing written, but I have to do it all knowing I will hands-down rewrite the beginning. Always.
Beginnings are about RELATIONSHIPS. We, as writers, have a real opportunity to share our characters and the relationships that make them as the first thing our readers see. They are building blocks, and ones we sorely need. As I've progressed as a writer, I've come to realize through the revision process (i.e. always rewriting my beginnings!) just how important that is.
My point? Don't dread your beginnings. Have fun with them. You may not ever get to see your characters like this again, so enjoy it. I'm going to.
January 9, 2013
Cait Peterson Wednesday, January 09, 2013 9 comments