|Found this cool meme on Google and just had to share it with you. Thank you plotwhisperer.com!|
But what if you don't want to start somewhere else? What if you have the compulsive need to start at the beginning? I have this problem as well. Just remember though, if you write the beginning very first to ignore it until the story is FINISHED! Don't go back or you will forever be stuck in the "editing/rewriting first chapter" loop. I got caught in that loop when I went to do my first rewrite/revisions on my very first finished novel. And I'm still caught in it.
One of my favorite things to think about with beginnings is: first impressions make the grade. When you are wanting a reader to read your story, how is that beginning going to impress them to keep them going in your story? Does it start in media res (i.e. in the middle of some kind of action)? Does it have catchy wording to hook you in the first two or three lines? Or does it have a lure of some other kind that makes you wonder where it will go next?
I just listened to the Writing Excuses podcast episode on Beginnings--Writing Excuses-Beginnings Episode Link--and during this episode, it was really nice to hear what people are looking for in a beginning. The first one I mentioned--the book starting in media res and they use this in the episode is James Bond beginnings. It starts off with him in action on some sort of assignment. You're hooked immediately because you are pulled in by the action and the suspense of who might die in the beginning or who will they introduce as a villain the James Bond beginning. It's awesome right?
If you want to start in media res, go for it. It doesn't have to be a big huge action scene like James Bond though. Start in the action that you feel is best, no matter how small it may be. I really liked how they also used the beginning of Cinder by Marissa Meyer (remember my short and sweet review?) as a in media res example. She's doing something small, but it's revealing something about her character as well which is what your readers learn in an in media res beginning.
The second one that I mentioned is just hooking the reader in the first two or three lines. The first book that came to my mind in this is The Martian by Andy Weir. I'll let you look up the first lines. Man, when I read those, I laughed out loud and said, "Oh dear, where is this book going?" I'm hooked right from the first lines. The other that a lot of people might think of that is engaging in the first few lines is A Tale of Two Cities. You know, the "It was the best of the times, it was the worst of times..." sentence which I believe is also one of the longest, or the longest, first sentence ever written, but also one of the most captivating.
The last one I mentioned is a lure that is intriguing and wants to make you read more. When I think of one like this, I think of The Help by Kathryn Stockett. (Love the book and the movie!) Also The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I mean, you start reading The Book Thief and you are immediately wondering who the heck the narrator is! Took me just a bit to figure it out, but if you haven't read it, I won't spoil it for you, unless you've seen the movie, then it's already spoiled. However, those are two books with beginnings that make you go, "Hmmmm....I wonder where this is going. I need to know more."
So, for this week, I am going to give you a writing prompt challenge on beginnings. Here it is: I want you to write the beginning of your story. However, do it three times. Once in media res, once with only a couple hook lines, and once more luring your reader in with intrigue. It shouldn't take more than a page for the first and last one, but the hook lines should only be two or maybe even three lines long. I'll do this too and report back next Wednesday on how it went.
Get out there, get reading and get writing!