The Importance of Starting in the Right Place

I admit it.  I’m starting over.  From the beginning.  After changing the POV in GLAMOUR from first person to third person, the story was still dull, and I realized I was starting in the wrong place.  And by starting in the wrong place, I was telling the wrong story. 

When I went back and studied the openings of my favorite authors (the writers who pull me into a story from the beginning and never let me go), they open their beginning scenes with a story-worthy problem in media res within the (magical) story world.  I know what you’re thinking:  of course, everybody knows that.  And my original beginning was opening in media res as well, but it wasn’t really story worthy (yet), and at the pace I was going, it was going to take me another 100 pages or so to get to the ‘worthy’ part.    I realized this made my opening more of a writing warm-up than the opening scene of a story that is supposed to pull the reader in. In writing, slow and steady does not win the race.   As Elmore Leonard said, “Skip the boring parts.”

So this weekend, I sat down with a notepad and paper and forced myself to start over.  I brainstormed three story-worthy problems for my protagonist.  One that he caused in his past and has to pay the consequences for, the second is a task  he doesn’t want to take on because he knows it’s a bad deal but can’t get out of it, and one that is focused on a promise made long ago, now come due.  Now I’ve got three first scenes that drive the forward motion of the story, expand the impact of the consequences, and provide plenty of complications, conflict, and disaster.  I’ve got another 20 scenes to plot out before I start writing again, but I can feel the juices flowing.  My little grey cells are making connections and bringing up all kinds of research questions.  I can’t wait to figure out what happens next. 

Much better than starting with a broken furnace. 

This entry was posted in characterization, hook, media res, query, story worthy problem. Bookmark the permalink.

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