Tuesday, August 21, 2012

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO START THE STORY THERE?

When I first started writing historical romance, I found I often started my tale
in the wrong place. I seemed to be a chapter behind or more often a chapter ahead of my story. By that I mean I spent much of that first chapter in back story, in other words writing about what had happened to one of the characters.

Not good!

I don't remember which writing guru insisted the story should begin with action, but I quickly realized he was right. My original stories didn't start with action. Nope, I was busy telling my readers what went before. The big epiphany actually happened with the third book I wrote, the one that got published second.

I read what I had written for chapter two and realized the action that caused all the reaction on which the story was built centered around that chapter. So my second chapter became my first chapter and the first chapter ended up in parts in the second, third and fifth chapters. (I still like that tale.)

So I leaned my lesson the hard way. It's not easy to say start the story in the middle of the action but you need to do just that. You need to start your book in the place where the action of the story brings about the reaction that completes the book.

And despite thinking I learned that lesson, I still have to redo my first and often my second chapters over. With a story firmly in your mind (I'm a plotter) it's so tempting to start at the beginning of the tale. Well, that usually won't work. So know I have to go back to my WIP and do what I preach. I have to start this tale in the middle of the action.

Do panters have the same problem? I'd love to know.

Allison Knight

3 comments:

Rita Bay said...

So happy to see you back, Allison. It's kind of like cause and effect. In writing, sometimes that first chapter can start with the effect and the causes become backstory that is revealed later. Later, Rita

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Yes is we do. It takes more rewriting.

I just discovered that what my WIP needed was an involved narrator. He's an interesting character and friends with the main character, but by telling the story through his eyes, the main character is no longer a judgmental dolt.

Gee, that only took a year to learn!

Big Mike said...

Action is good. Another thing I like to do, given a lot of readers scan the first few pages before they buy, is leave a quandary, puzzle, mystery that yearns to be answered. Can he the H or H's in turmoil and you need to discover what it's all about. Always leave 'em guessing.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)