Sunday, June 18, 2017

Refresh: Sunday Musings - How and where to start

Hello, Sunday.

Everyone keeping well?

Last week we talked titles or story first and this week's question from my teen, I think, follows the next course:

How do you know where to to start?

I generally dismiss my first idea for the start of a story on the grounds that if it came to me so easily, it's probably boring! Having done that, I try to think of something a bit more offbeat and memorable. Sometimes, I like to plunge the reader into the middle of the story first, then backtrack and find the real start of the story. Wherever I start, I always try to make it so interesting the reader can't wait to find out what happens next.

Knowing where to start a story is hard, and it's not something that I always get right on the first try. I have to write the story – the whole story – from beginning to end. Only after that can I go back and see if the first chapter – or chapters – are really backstory that needs to be cut and worked into the text bit by bit. Nothing, IMO, loses a reader faster that starting with a couple of chapters of background material.

I think about my seed idea until a potential book forms in my mind and then normally start at the beginning.  There have been a couple of cases where I began writing in the middle, continued to the end, and returned to do the beginning.  This happened with PARIAH.  I couldn't get myself to postpone the specific scene and so obeyed the book and went with it.  Everything worked out smoothly.  I've learned over the years not to fight with what my books or characters really want to do.

Usually I get a sentence in my head and I put it down. This will bring me to the next one and suddenly I have an idea. Or, as in the case of writing my sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, “Who Is Jennifer Taylor?” I thought about what if we could see Jennifer’s side of the story and it brought me to the idea of writing about her the year after the first story.

I’m a plotter and before I start writing a new book, I create an outline. When it comes to writing the actual beginning scene, I do that much later.

I wait until I know my characters really well, and what secrets they might be hiding, and then it becomes clear where the story is supposed to begin.  I find it’s easier to have my characters fully fleshed out before I write that first page. When I know their quirks and habits, and I know what is coming ahead plot-wise, I can sprinkle in some in mystery and foreshadowing and humour and all the good stuff.

So, the beginning is really one of the last things I write.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

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