Friday, February 28, 2014

Where To Start Your Book

One of the biggest challenges in deciding to write a book is where is the right place to start it. I'm not talking about the first time you sit down to the blank computer screen, I'm talking about after you have written the rough draft and are now onto your revisions.

As I said in the previous post, a lot of writers want to tell the life story of the character in the first chapter and they have a hard time hooking the reader and keeping them wanting to turn the page. I'm not writing this from any great research on the subject, but from my own experience as a writer.

One thing that might help you in the "hook" department is to go through the books in your house and open them to the first page. Look at the different first sentences and paragraphs. Choose the newer books, since the older ones didn't emphasize hooks back then.

I'm sure you will see that a majority start right in the middle of what's happening. Not just in action, but even in contemporary literature. 

The introduction of the character, the dilemma, and setting the scene. These are the fundamentals of the first chapter. So, the place to start is where your story begins. 

Not years in your characters past. Not back story, but where they are right now, right this very minute. If there is back story to explain what is happening, you weave it through the chapters a little at a time and usually with tid-bits of internal thought and dialog. 

What's important to the reader is what is happening to move the story along. One of the easiest ones to explain where to start are YA books. They're usually action packed and begin with what the character is facing. Another like this, is Fantasy or Sci-Fi. Those, too, are usually action packed. I will give you one hint though, do not start your story with a dream.

The harder ones to decide where to begin are the slower moving stories, such as romance and contemporary. 

So if your character has a run of bad luck, you start it with maybe the character is getting fired, or the spouse is asking for a divorce, or whatever the main story plot is leading toward. 

A big suggestion I have before you decide where to begin is to have your ducks in a row.

1. Know your story and plot.

2. Have an outline prepared.

3. Have a character outline so you know and can keep to their personalities.

4. Look at your entire book and see what actions keep everything moving and where they should be placed.

5. And finally, it's okay to cut if it doesn't move the story along. Try to stick to the important scenes and leave out what drags. 

If you have these things together, revisions will be much easier to do. And you will know where the story should begin.

Have you come across the frustration of where to start your first chapter? What did you do to help you decide where the story should begin?

Well, I hope all of you have a fantastic weekend. Don't forget to drop me a line and let me know your thoughts!

Love, Lisa

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