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Part of this might because I start with a synopsis for most of my stories and craft them from there. I don't usually have an outline when I begin or if I do it is a very basic one. For me it is more fun to dive in and see where the story takes me. I know I have time once its done to go back and fix things later.
In the rewriting process my beginnings give me the most grief. This is ironic because I've always hated writing my endings more than my beginnings. The first few lines of my story are often my favorite. The words pour out of my head onto the page in this wondrous way and I can't help smiling as I write them. But when it comes time to start showing my story to my trusted critique group I usually come away with less than positive feedback.
It seems that in my joy of pouring out my story I tend to go on and on too much with info dumps, too little dialogue, and a beginning that has been done too many times before. Sometimes the unfolding of the plot that seemed so clear to me as I lived it in my mind is even confusing to my readers.
When this inevitably happens I take a moment to let the chapter sit a while. As I re-group I've found the best inspiration for me to go back and do better is often to re-read some of my favorite books, or even a new book that came highly recommended. When I do this I find myself really looking at those beginnings. It is amazing to discover the beauty in those first few words that drew me into that world and made me fall in love with that story. Reading them again or even for the first time gives me the courage to strive for something just as beautiful in my own work.
How about you? What are some of the best story beginnings you've ever read?