A very good place to start.
Unfortunately, you can’t start a book with “Do re mi.” You have to start it with something that makes sense and is exciting and grabs the reader and has action and drama and pathos and wit…blah blah blah.
I have started my fourth version of the Personal Demons sequel. I hesitate to mention its new title lest I discover, as I did with the last one, that someone else has taken it. (Google might help there, I’ll give that a go.)
I lked the first three versions. I liked all of them. I thought that was where the story started, but it turns out I was wrong.
I hate starting new books. Nothing is scarier than writing those first lines–at least, not when the pressure is on.
Usually I just go ahead and start. Anywhere near the beginning is fine, because sooner or later, usually within that first chapter somewhere (although occasionally it’s been as late as the third), the actual start of the book will reveal itself. “That’s your goddamn opening!” a voice will say, and I’ll see that it’s right.
But lately, the last couple of books…the opening has been fraught with worry and doubt. Is this the right place? What if I’m wrong? Isn’t this all just crap anyway, total gibberish?
They say you should start where the action is, and they’re right. But in my head I always carry this too far:
I could start with the car chase…but then there’s so much backstory…and that leads into a sex scene, and I don’t want to start with that, and besides, the car chase just illustrates a point, I could handle the point with a line of dialogue, couldn’t I, but if I do that I don’t need the scene on the roof, and really the climax of the story is the big action, so…
And eventually I picture my entire book being this one line:
Some bad stuff happened, but they won in the end.
But I think I’ve finally cracked it now. The new opening has a hint of mystery, some humor, a little sexiness, some anxiety, and a healthy dollop of anticipation and “What’s going on”-ness without being so overbearing with it that a reader might give up.
Of course, having said that, I’ll probably re-read the new opening tonight and decide it sucks, and it will go in the bin (when I say ” go in the bin” I in fact mean “stay unopened in the tomb of my hard drive”) with the others.
What do you like to see in an opening, especially a sequel? What’s the hardest part for you to write?