"Welcome to Japan, folks. The local time is . . . tomorrow."
- from 30 Minutes Over Tokyo, The Simpsons, Season 10

Friday, September 17, 2010

When Beginnings Don't Work

This is cross-posted from this thread at Absolute Write.

I'm just getting back into editing one of my favorite manuscripts again just because I've been agonizing over the beginning. My beta reader suggested giving it a more action-y opening, so I wrote a new scene and tacked it on at the beginning. But the problem was just that, it felt tacked on. My original opening was also rather info dump-y, so I cut back on a lot of tha. But it still didn't feel very engaging to me. I mean, I like the scene and I like the characters, but that's because I already know who they are. I couldn't figure out exactly what was wrong with the opening, or how to it, so I stopped working on it for a while.

Then I read Kristen's blog post about killer openings and wondered if my opening was suffering from a similar problem. So I read her other posts on beginner mistakes, unsuccessful openings, and why she passed on sample pages. And I started really thinking about my opening and exactly what kind of problems I and my beta reader were having with it.

Anyway, I have a more action-y opening now, and one that I think will be more enticing to readers. All I did was take the last scene from chapter two and move it to the first scene in chapter one. I'll have to rearrange some of my earlier scenes around to make it fit, but I'm much happier with my beginning now. Plus, by switching these opening scenes around, I've added to my main character's motivation (which was another thing I was struggling with). And I actually want to work on it for a change, rather than just going, yeah, I really need to finish that.

I guess I'm just trying to say that I like agent blogs that talk about the rules and I like reading threads on message boards that talk about the rules. Because even thought I've been writing for a while now, and I even minored in creative writing at college, I'm still learning. I usually don't pay attention to the rules while I write, but reading other people's blogs and message board posts helps me understand why something I did didn't work so that I can fix it into something that does work.

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