I’ve been pretty random about the stuff I’ve been talking about lately, even though it’s all writing related. So I thought I would refocus and start at the beginning, which is timely considering I’m also starting a new book this week. So let’s talk beginnings.
Beginnings are tricky beasts. And I do mean they are beasts. They carry the weight of the book on its shoulders. It’s where you sell the book to readers, or publishers, or agents. Those precious first few pages can’t suck, because if they do, readers will never make it to that amazeballs scene in the middle and the end where you blow all the stuff up and the hero gets the girl.
Our world now is about instant gratification. Between social media, the crap political climate, or the fact that people just don’t have the leisure time like they used to have, it’s make or break trying to hook someone before they decide to put that book down.
So… now that I’ve completely freaked both myself and you out, let’s ease some of the pressure. It doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it. Okay, as hard as I make it, but come on, commiserate with me.
It used to be we had twenty pages to talk about what a tree looks like (I’m looking at you, Tolkien) but in the days of Netflix and one-click sales on Amazon, when we introduce the “ordinary” world of our hero, create that baseline of how things are going to change through the story, we need to get to the action sooner rather than later.
I think about movies like James Bond flicks, or Lara Croft, or Raiders of the Lost Ark. Outrunning a boulder is actually normal for Indiana. We know exactly what he is good at, what kind of work he does, and that scene even establishes the rivalry with the movie’s antagonist. So when he’s asked to get the medallion that can lead him to the Ark, we know he’s the guy for the job.
Also? Who doesn’t love a guy who carries a whip for pretty much everything except actually whipping someone? <3
That all said, we don’t even need to open with ordinary world. We could open with the inciting incident, and while the hero is flipping us off with the mere mention of it, we can explore his ordinary world and show why our hero is reluctant to leave it.
I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle there. I like the ordinary world, but I also like blowing stuff up right at the beginning. I think all of my romantic suspenses may have started with an explosion or two. Or people firing weapons at each other. It’s kind of my thing.
Actually, that might be my problem. Hmm… Dear Readers, I think you just gave me an idea for my next beginning. See you next time, my little book nerds!