On beginnings

I officially hate writing beginnings. The first 250 to 500 words or so are probably the hardest part of the novel for me, because unlike any other 250 to 500 word section of the novel (except maybe the very last), the reader is paying attention to every single one, and so every single one matters. They’re not yet contained within a larger scene, blending in to what came before and sitting atop an established plot and character base. They’re completely exposed. And – and this is the worst of it – all of the rest of the words in the novel are counting on those 250 to 500 to win the reader over. Nothing like a little bit of pressure, right?

I never have trouble getting started on those first drafts. I find a spot I’m comfortable beginning the story at and then I write, and I tell the story. Fussing around trying to get it just right is for later, after the story’s been told and the focus is on polishing. But honestly, no part of my story gets fussed over quite the way that first page does. Both with Magestone, and now with Secrets, the opening section was rewritten half a dozen times. And it often goes through quite radical changes in setting, approach, even points of tension.

I am currently weighing two possible openings for Secrets, and they are very different – they don’t even take place in the same scene. One of my CPs liked one better because it had more tension, while another preferred the other because she liked the tone of it better. I’m absolutely no help in deciding the matter – if I was any good at openings I wouldn’t have written seven of them.

Edit again: I’m still making big changes to the opening, and have gone back for another try. Rather than keep updating what I’d posted here, I think I’ll just remove it. Seems easier. :)

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