First off, let’s start with the fact that it’s Mother’s day. Hooray to all the mothers out there (including me)! I had a great little morning with the family…a pancake breakfast, a margarita before noon, a small nap, and I’m back in pjs before 4pm. THAT is a successful Mother’s day, in my mind.
But that’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re here to talk about awful beginnings.
Cue the Debbie Downer music
Awful book beginnings are the worst. These are the beginnings that take any excitement out of what you thought would be an amazing read. Beginnings that are slow and boring and feel like a large investment, rather than a way to pass the time.
That’s primarily what I’m struggling with. How to not write a crappy beginning. And I came to the realization that I was starting at an awful beginning point when I read the following from Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds:
We don’t watch baseball expecting that the first hour will be batting practice. We don’t expect the pilot episode of a TV program to give us an hour of character introductions only. We don’t go out on a date only to meet our date’s parents first and look through hour after hour of photo albums and yearbooks and baby booties.
Get to the part where shit happens. Get to the gunfire! The robot! The drama! The fucking!
And he’s right. Get to the point QUICKLY. Don’t give the entire back story that has nestled comfortably in your brain…give the reader the thing at the end that makes them want to learn more about the context. Don’t give them the answers too easily.
Fine, I’ll rewrite it AGAIN
I was getting close, you guys. Like, “Hey I have a plan and a date and I’m working towards showing you something soon, huzzah!” and then I just HAD to go read the wise words of Mr. Wendig. It’s good, but it’s just hard. It’s hard to keep staying the course when you now have a new piece of information that makes you question EVERYTHING you’ve ever written. So yeah, I’m going to give this beginning another crack. A beginning that I thought was good until I read that post. But I’m appreciative, because I know it will make it better.
For example, this is the high-level view of the story arch for the first installment (which would equate to about the first three or four chapters)…
- A good thing happens.
- Even better things happen, is this real life?
- Oh crap, something bad happened while the good thing was happening.
- Now things are really bad, like I might die right now, kind of bad. Shit. What do I do?
And that’s where I was going to end the first installment, on a cliff hanger. And I think that will still happen, but the beginning has been shaken up. In fact, the arch is spotty right now but this is what I’ve got so far…
- Things are really bad, like I might die right now, kind of bad.
- Zack Morris “time out.”
- And then something cool happens that makes you want to read more.
As you can see, I’m pretty good at pivoting. Except, not at all. It’s more like an elderly man getting up from a really plushy recliner…it takes a while.
But in time, I’ll figure it out. I’d like to say, “I always do!” but I can’t really say that since I have YET to put a book out into the interwebs. Some day, minions. Some day.
Till then, hack that beginning to pieces and make it work!