So as I sat down to write up this blog post I couldn't help wondering--what am I going to actually say about this? You either write happily or you write painfully.
And that's when it hit me. That's exactly the point. However things go, you just. keep. writing. It goes hand in hand with Sunday's post on banishing your inner critic.
Writing is not about perfection--it never should be. (Editing? Well that's a different story. But even then, 'perfection' is very illusive!). Writing is not about catering to some random, fickle muse. Sometimes the inspiration is running strong and you make your words work for you excellently. Other times you're just going to feel like chucking the novel in a drawer and forgetting it, because it's hard. That's when you have to say "I am a writer, and writers write."
So if you're having trouble with that book's beginning? Here are a few ideas:
- Start in the middle of the action.
- Introduce your character in a creative way.
- Stay away from paragraphs of scenic descriptions, someone waking up/looking into a mirror, etc etc. Hard to get those cliches to work.
- Don't give too much backstory in the very beginning.
- Make the reader fall in love with your character.
- Cause the reader to ask "What happens next?"
- Establish the voice, tone, and mood of your book right away.
- Don't bother copying other books' styles--do you!
- Introduce the conflict of the story.
- And if it's just not coming--jump right in and know you can always fix it later!
So, to have a little fun, I thought I'd share some of my first lines in various books/WIPs etc. Some are alright, and some will definitely need editing later...but I wanted to show you that beginnings are meant to be just that--beginnings-- and they won't always be like what you'd expect to see as a first line in a published book. :).
- The lamp flickered, casting weird shadows across the dying man’s bed. Mrs. Ruth Morley pressed her husband’s hand between hers, glancing up from his face only to exchange a look with one of her stepdaughters. --A Novel
- The table groaned under the weight of fourteen year old Judah Green, and the boys below gazed up at the spectacle with unhidden curiosity. It wasn’t strange, actually, for Judah Green to be standing on a table. Nor was it strange that he had a crowd of onlookers. In fact, nothing was strange when one was speaking of Judah Green. --Judah Green, Book One.
- “Stop the car!” I leaned out the window, the wind blowing my long dark hair into my face. I pushed it away. “Dad, please stop the car! Look at all those wildflowers! It’s beautiful!” --Kind Heart
- Beatrix had never seen so much gold around her, not in all her twelve years. She wanted to squint, almost, in the brightness of it all, but there was so much to see that she felt it would be a crime to do so. --New Landing Series, Book One
- A baseball came whizzing through the air. Eighteen year old Leo Nakano’s hand shot into the air and snagged it from the sidewalk. “Watch it!” He yelled cheerfully as he jogged onto the nearby vacant lot. “You nearly took my head off, Dennis.” --Two-Faced Man
- “Most of all, she simply wants to live again.” Mrs. Lundell dropped back against the velvet cushions of the train seat and placed a gloved hand up to her perspiring brow. “My, but it is hot.” -- A Novel
- Melinda almost couldn't distinguish the sound of the baby's cry from the howling of the wind outside. It whistled in through the cracks in the cabin, swirling in tiny eddies of snow. -- Melinda/Further Courage 2nd Draft
- Melinda Hamilton could not imagine how such two very different lives could have been twisted so unexplainably together. --Melinda/Further Courage 3rd Draft
- The lamplight cast an odd, flickering glow across the wet cobblestones. “Hurry,” Midwife Hester Donahue whispered from a few steps ahead of her. Melinda took a leaping step over a puddle and slipped, clutching at Hester’s black Quaker cloak as she reeled backwards. --Melinda/Further Courage Draft #3 and 1/2
- It was dark when Kit Lawler stepped out of his shabby front door praying for a cool, pure breeze. No lamplighter came down the streets in this part of London, and so the street was swamped with shadows--the kind that gather on such hot and smoggy evenings that you feel as though you might choke. --The Needlemaker
Whew! A good deal of editing needed there--that's for sure! lol. Leave me a comment below sharing one of your opening lines, or let me know if you ever struggle with beginnings.
Have a lovely day!