In the Beginning…

Good writer’s are always growing, right? So, in the last couple of years, I’ve really come to understand just how important the intro to a story is. Not just because it’s the first thing people read. But because the beginning sets the tone for the entire story.

If you’re writing a historical paranormal (like, I wish), it needs to feel historical AND paranormal from the very beginning. You can’t have weird things happening that don’t match the tone of the story you’re laying out!

I tried to write a story earlier this year (ahaha). The first chapter was fun and silly, but the overall tone of the story in theory, while still fun and comedic, is also dark and supernatural. I started the story in a convenience store with the main character buying chips or bugels or something, I don’t remember. A page or two later, when the first bit of tension happens, albeit brief, it didn’t feel right, because the starting tone was all wrong. I had a good reason for starting the story in a convenience store, I swear, but I think perhaps I started it too late. And too light.

In my current project, it feels magical and dark from the very beginning. I have a character alone in a room, talking to a goldfish. It’s by far one of my most favorite openings that I’ve written. I wrote it back in February or something, so when I reread it before picking the story back up, I was just so entranced. 😀

I know right. It’s probably a weird thing to say, that I was all absorbed in my writing, but it happens. ^_^

It was thinking about this concept – of getting the beginning right – that helped me figure out why I was feeling so disconnected from the intro to “The Puppet Box.” It was good, and I liked it, but I felt like something was missing. Like ole Riley was hiding something from me! Can you imagine? 😛 But honestly, my characters don’t usually hide crap from me.

I guess she finally broke down and showed me because I was threatening to pull her story off the grid. But I tried again, just in case there was something lurking in the back of my mind. Also, because I’m in love with the idea.

After getting my brain all relaxed at the Loreena McKinnitt concert last month, I went home and felt the urge to flip through my story ideas – not looking for anything in particular. And I ran across this freaky idea. And something about it just really pulled at me. So I moved it up the list.

A few minutes later though, I reached for my phone and edited my “Puppet Box” note to include some details from that idea. It doesn’t replace that idea, strange enough. But I felt drawn to it for a reason, you know. And the next day, all of Riley’s secrets came tumbling out all over the place, and it was awesome. ^_^

Because I knew she was too normal. She had to be hiding something!!

So, all of that rabbit trail to say: it fixed my intro, and the story will be much better.

The funny thing is – none of this changed the ending. It just fixed all the weird plot holes I had and made the ending that much better. I cannot wait to write this ending!! It’s what’s dreams are made of. Or nightmares. 😈 I have a song picked out for it and everything. Can. Not. Wait.

Yeah, intros are important. They set the tone and pace for the entire story. No pressure though, seriously, because you can rework it as many times as you want. I often write my intros several months before I actually write the stories.

“No Rest for the Wicked” had an intro down 6 months before I picked it back up. “Winter’s Siren” (the current project), got it’s intro down back in February, a good 7 months before I picked it up again, and it would have been longer than that if “The Puppet Box” had been ready. So, I’ll probably have the new intro for “The Puppet Box” down soon. It’ll give me something to look over when drafting time comes. ^_^ In fact, I already have the intro down to two other stories, and I don’t know when I’ll get to those little beasts. Those are fun stories waiting to happen. 😀

While I’m at it. I should get the new intro down for another story…

See…this is why I have focusing problems.

Happy Last Day of November! ^_^

10 Responses to In the Beginning…

  1. For me, the beginning has to be right before I can write the actual story. When I first wrote Moonless, the beginning was a little too heavy and dark. There was none of that hopeful tone shining through that really is Alexia’s voice. That beginning was a mess and took years to straighten out. Lesson learned. That’s why I usually start a story (first 10 to 30 pages) when lightning strikes, and then let it sit until I’m read to work on it. Don’t you love the discover process that goes with writing? When a character opens up, or a plot point unfurls and you jump up, screaming, or stare at your screen in utter shock? These are the moments we live for, eh?

    • Definitely! I love those moments! I’m glad I’m not the only one churning intros out early. ^_^ It not only takes the pressure off later, but it gets me off to a much less messy and chaotic start.

  2. I rewrite my intro at least several hundred times for each story (and yes, I wish this was an exaggeration!) It is super important and so hard to hit just right. I love the goldfish idea. That sounds great 🙂

    • Thank you! ^_^ OMG! I know when I was writing “Discord,” I spent so much time on my first chapter I was ready to staple the whole project into a crate and dump it in the bottom of the sea. I spent an inordinate amount of time brainstorming the opening, and I still won’t know if it’s working until I write it down.

  3. Yes intros are important. Every agent and publisher will tell us that. And I get why – as you said tone and hooking the reader.
    As a reader though, I’m more forgiving of the beginning (as long as it isn’t awful) than the end. I usually give a book around 100 pages before I pass judgment on if I like it, so you’ve got time to win me over. BUT, if you win me over and then leave me with an ending I don’t like – then I start spitting fire.

    • I was thinking more from a writing perspective, because if I don’t get my intro right, my entire story falls apart. From a reading perspective, though, readers are definitely a lot more forgiving than most agents are. I’m not super forgiving, but on average, it takes me at least one chapter to get into a story, so I try to give it that, at least.

      Endings are super important too!!

  4. As I reader I need to be hooked in the story early on so that I can keep reading otherwise I lose interest. So the intro to the story should be early on.

    • I feel the same way. The only time I keep reading anyway is if I know the author personally or if the book was recommended by someone who knows my tastes really well. Then I’ll give the book a few more chapters.

Hi! ^_^