Would my real start please stand up?

Monday August 29, 2011 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging

I’ve been studying structure and reading my favorite blogs in the off time when I’m not working on my rewrite. There‘s lots of great advice out there if you look for it but there is nobody to give you the “right” answer on how your book should actually start.  I’ve started this book 5 different ways, each rewritten several times … a longwinded lead up to where the story starts, a hook that had nothing to do with the story, a start with no real hook, a start with a hook that actually has something to do with the plot but not the main plot.  Would my real start please stand up?

It’s very good advice to get in as late as possible and get out as soon as you can, but defining those points is easier to describe than it is to accomplish.   I’ve learned that the beginning of the story needs to relate to the main problem of the book, but there is also a lot written about making the beginning of the story grab the reader.   I’ve also learned that it’s a great technique to introduce all five senses to the reader in the first few pages to make it a visceral experience.  That’s a lot of stuff to balance at the beginning, so how do you find that perfect moment?

I feel like I am getting conflicting advice on this so I’m actually doing two beginnings: one that doesn’t start quite as fast then has a nice hook, and one where it skips past that slower part and introduces the main plot shortly afterward.    I like them both, but I think there is actually a “right” answer here.  What I’m afraid of is that the right answer will be different for different people.  It’s making me write the first 5 odd chapters twice.  The rest of the book will flow normally from there.  I think the remaining edits will be pretty straight forward.

I’m going to see what my alpha and beta readers say I guess.  Is that lame?

Clear Ether!

5 Responses

  1. Near the end of this post, you write that the rest of the book will flow normally from there.Is the book already written and if not, how do you know the rest will flow normally?Then earlier in this post you mention a long-winded lead up to where the story starts. For me, the key is in that sentence, where the story starts. I wish you a lot of fun with this project. Please don't over think. Go with YOUR gut because that's the most important. And, really, you'll never please every reader, every time.Cheers.

  2. Hi Ivy! The first draft is written. I am working on the edits and want to nail the beginning. I am leaning one way, but I'm not convinced I'm right. I'm going to ask for some opinions on which one works better. I'm writing both beginnings, it's just a little extra work. Great to hear from you!

  3. Hi Todd, my first thriller had three different beginnings. I choose one character first. Then thought, no I should start with another character, then finally-hey, what if I start out from the point of view of the victim? If the reader sees him die, perhaps they will be come invested in the investigation. And that was the best beginning for that book.The best part about writing is that we get to keep making it better-until it's in print anyway. LOL I agree with THW- trusting yourself is the biggest part of writing no matter where you are in the book.Cheers~

I would love to hear from you!