In Which I Rant About Beginnings

I know I don’t normally blog here on Thursdays but I needed to vent and blogging is a great way to let out my steam and tomorrow is dedicated to revealing the winner of The Plot Whisperer Book Giveaway. So…I’m simply throwing this post out there for my own benefit.

This morning’s writing session went downhill fast. By 11:00 I had a headache and was so disgusted with the scenes I was working on that I simply shut off the computer and went to take a long, hot bubble bath.

Bubble baths normally drain my mind of cluttered thoughts and allow me to focus.

Yeah. That did not happen today. I think my bubble bath lasted all of 15 minutes. In that 15 minutes I did manage to identify my problem, but the solution? Light years away.

So…I got out, put on my robe, wrapped my hair in a towel and piled up in my bed. A nap sounded good. I’d been up since 4:30. Maybe a nap would fix my problem.

I was wrong again. I woke up after a whopping thirty minute rest.

It was lunchtime. Maybe I just needed to eat. Food is good.

Unfortunately, it’s been a rough week. I’ve had about a gazillion things to do and no time to do it in. One of those things is a trip to the grocery store. I heated up some leftover chicken, grabbed a bag of Doritos, poured myself some Coke Zero (I know…pointless since I’m eating Doritos) and decided to write this rant.

This is my problem: The beginning of my novel is my NEMESIS. Has been since day ONE. And this is why.

I think all of us writers have to know what we like to read before we’re ever really happy with what we write. I’ve heard writers ask…”Is it okay to love my work?” My answer? You better love your work. If you don’t, why will anyone else?

And I have scenes that I love. Scenes that I enjoy reading. And then there is this mess of crap at the beginning that I loathe. If I read it in any other novel I would cringe. And that’s not okay. I’ve sort of got this thing about loving my work. I HAVE TO. ESPECIALLY the beginning. That’s when we hook the reader, whether that’s an agent, publisher or unsuspecting shopper at Barnes & Noble. It doesn’t matter…that’s the chance we get. If we lose them there, chances are they won’t keep reading.

But it’s not even that pressure that’s getting to me. It’s the fact that I simply don’t like what I’m writing and I’m the only one that can fix it.

Like I said…we have to know what we like to read before we’re happy with what we write.

Example: I love for the inciting incident to act as a great divide between “life before” and “life after.” I like for those two epochs to contrast greatly. Why? It shows great change. It sucks me in. I get all gooey and addicted to novels that start like that. It’s just a preference.

My favorite novels do this. They show me the comfortable BEFORE. The normal. Then, they let me experience the moment of change. That moment or event, (the inciting incident), creates a great fissure in the character’s world and they are alerted to a “new world” and called to adventure. From that point, there is no going back. Things are forever changed. That fissure is too great for them to ever return back to that life. They might get close, but things will ultimately never be the same.

I like that separation from the “life before” to be distinct.

That moment in my own novel is NOT.

That’s why I’m so annoyed today. And it’s not a simple change. A simple rewrite of the scene won’t fix it. In order to make that distinct separation, what my MC knows of the “new world” before the inciting incident must change. I’ve given her too much knowledge of that “new world” beforehand to make the inciting incident a big enough deal to please me as a reader.

Everytime I read my opening scenes I get bored. The contrast in my character’s world isn’t great enough to excite me.

And I’m the writer. Only I can fix it. Yet I’m not sure how just yet. Other things hinge on my MC knowing certain details about the “new world” in the beginning which I guess, makes it not-so-new. That’s where the problem is.

In order to fix it, other things have to change. Things I love.

So…needless to say, the beginning of this novel is making me a basket case.

But…I WILL WIN. I will figure it out, God help me.

How about you? Are beginnings easy for you? How do you feel about the first Act in a novel? What does it have to do to hook you?

You may also like


  1. I've been having an eerily similar problem lately. I like for my beginnings to go the same way, and my problem was that what I had written and re-written and re-written was boring the hell out of me.
    Know what I did? I passed my entire MS (since I am completely and utterly happy with the rest) over to my CP and a Beta Reader. I told them that the first two chapters were the *devil* and that I needed help. I'm hoping they see something I don't – so in turn, I can write a fabulous beginning that I'm happy with.
    Like you said, we're the writers and only *we* can fix it, but maybe a fresh pair of eyes can see what it is that we're trying to do and maybe help us brainstorm on how to fix it and get it right.

    Keep at it and it'll come. If not, find a fresh pair of eyes that are willing to help pull you through the mud.

  2. @Melinda Thanks Melissa 🙂 I think I will talk it over with my CP. I can see what has to happen, but it changes a lot in the rest of the story…motivations, etc. But…I'm one of those people who would rather die than give up LOL. I'll eventually get it. Thanks for commenting Sweets 🙂