About Me

My photo
I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beginnings

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
The beginning to any story is crucial to drawing in a reader. I find the first chapters of my novels are initially the weakest part of my story.

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?

2 comments:

  1. I recently read a post about Richard Peck, the children's author, and his discussion on first lines. Here's the whole blog post if anyone is interested in checking it out: http://thepenandinkblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/first-lines-from-richard-pecks-scbwi.html. It lists several first lines. I don't pay much attention to the first line--isn't that weird? For me, it's mostly the first chapter or two. If I'm to page 30 and nothing's happening, then I'm not happy and probably not going to finish. But the first line--unless it is only about the weather--I don't notice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never used to pay that much attention to the first lines either. But since I've really started trying to craft an opening that will draw an editor/agent in and hopefully lead to getting published I've decided that looking at what has really worked for other published authors could really help. How did they dive into the story? Where did the story actually start? It might be the first chapter at the beginning, it might be the end of that first chapter or even the second. It just seems like you don't get much of a chance to really grab your reader's attention before they lose interest with so many books and other things vying for their time. I also thought this would make for a fun discussion. So far it is. :) Thanks for the link to the blog post too.

      Delete