Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stories That Start Like Mondays

I am pretty sure we all have them. You know, just like getting up on a Monday morning, reluctant to leave the weekend behind and setting forth into a new week, starting a story sometimes can be a dragging effort. After all, most of us already picture ‘Friday’ and all the wonderful things that will unfold at the end of the week.

I can name several instances where starting a new manuscript, while thrillingly exciting, eventually becomes a nightmare. You have this brilliant story to tell, and you can’t wait to do so, but you need to lay down the groundwork first, the proper foundation. After all, it’s the first few pages of a book that grabs the reader and keeps them glued.

I can name a few times I’ve added too much concrete and metal rebars as I laid my foundation down. Way too much. Then, the times when no enough was added and next thing you know, the entire story is all shaky and about to collapse. It’s hard work trying to find the right balance, the right mix, and the proper materials to ensure that the beginning is as solid as steel.

Just recently, I encountered this problem (yet again). First the beginning was too vague, and a couple of my beta readers wanted more, or needed to see a little more of the beginning bit to fully grasp the rest of the story. Then, it grew to be too much, and far too dull. So, back to the drawing board, hacking out chunks, then adding them back in elsewhere in the story, then pulling out some hairs and screeching since it started to look disjointed, then putting back those deleted chunks and adding them back in, but deleting other bits that were not necessary…you get the picture.

So, how many others find writing the first few chapters of a book challenging? How do you lay down the groundwork without loading it down with too much material? Do you ease the reader into the tale, or jump right in and shock them? I’d love to know.



Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I was an artist by trade -- years ago. So I start with a hook aka center of interest, several titles and just meander through the main character's issues. Much will come out or be rearranged, but as I pick the bones, as I would chip away at wood or stone, form emerges. Then I'm off and running, any day of the week.

Nikki said...

I often find myself writing too much background when I start a new story, but I find if I just write through it, I get to the good stuff. Then the background gets chopped away or repositioned. So it all works out in the end.

T.K. Toppin said...

I hear you about too much background, Nikki. I fall into that category. Thanks for stopping by!