Carol Kilgore visits to tackle what we writers wrestle with, rewrite…
Once upon a time . . .
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive . . .
We remember the perfect ones.
They seem so easy, so effortless.
For me, beginnings are the most difficult part of the story to write.
They’re not so hard to draft – we’re all excited to get those words down while we’re chasing after the latest Bright Shiny. But those first draft words are sly and deceitful. What was full of promise on Day 1 becomes dull and plodding when we’re back for a second look on Day 101.
Our mission is simple – entice the reader to turn the page.
Start with the first line. The first paragraph. The first page. The first chapter.
Think about words, tone, personality, content.
Think about pacing, building suspense. Surprise. Laughter. Whatever direction leads into your story.
Make the reader care enough to turn the page.
Cast your bright, shiny hook her way, and reel her into your story.
For as long as I’ve been writing, I’ve tried to write a fast first draft. I go at a fair clip once I get my sea legs, but that doesn’t happen until I introduce the main characters and some (meaning more than two) of them interact. That usually takes between 20-30 pages before I’m comfortable.
During this time, it’s slow going. I write. Rewrite. Write. Rearrange. Write. Change some preconceived ideas. Write. And so on. I change the beginning again and again. Sometime during the process, the first lines start to gel. I only pick at a word here and there.
Each time I put on my writing hat, I move deeper into the characters and story. But I also go over and over these first pages each time.
In revisiting them each day, the prose becomes smoother, the ideas become more solid, the backstory and banter I didn’t think I included gets written out. But the most important thing for me is that I get to know my main characters better.
By the time I do move on, the beginning is as good as I can make it . . . for first draft.
Then comes the next draft. And the one after. They all go the same way. When I no longer spend more time on the opening than on any of the other pages, I finally feel like I’m good to go.
I continue to hope for a speedy first draft beginning with the first word. Maybe one day I’ll succeed. I wonder if I’ll miss the extra time with my characters?
How about you?
How do you handle the beginning?
Is it as difficult for you as it is for me?
I hope not.
You can find Carol here:
And check out Solomon’s Compass. Here’s the blurb:
A missing belt—her uncle’s prized possession. The lure of buried treasure. And a sexy former SEAL who makes U.S. Coast Guard Commander Taylor Campbell crazy. What more could any woman want. Right?
Taylor is in Rock Harbor, Texas, on a quest to unearth her uncle’s treasure—a journey far outside the realm of her real life. There’s one glitch. Taylor's certain the buried treasure was all in Uncle Randy's dementia-riddled mind. Now he’s dead.
Former SEAL Jake Solomon is in Rock Harbor under false pretenses to protect Taylor from the fate that befell her uncle and the other members of a tight circle of Coast Guardsmen called the Compass Points who served together on Point boats in Vietnam.
Jake is definitely not supposed to become involved with Taylor. That was his first mistake. Taylor is attracted to Jake as well, but she refuses to wait for him to locate the killer when she knows her plan will force her uncle’s murderer into action.
But the killer's actions are just what Jake is afraid of.