Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Finding Your Starting Point

The importance of the first few lines we write cannot be underestimated. That first string of words has to reach into a reader’s heart, mind, or soul and grab them, pull them into the story, or attract them to our main character, and keep them reading.
How do you know where your story begins?

I’d suggest that, when we start a new manuscript, we don’t always know the starting point. We discover the best possible starting point as we write. In reading through a first draft of a recent manuscript I’d finished, I discovered the starting point midway through the first chapter. All that came before was unnecessary information. I knew the moment I hit the starting point—the lines that pulled me in and propelled me into the story.

Agents, editors and readers aren’t privy to our internal reasoning as to how back story and information that provides a set-up, no matter how well-written, comes into play. They want a line or two, at the very beginning, that makes them want to know more.

Think about it. If I write: Sue was my best friend all through school. We know each others secrets as well as we know our own. She’s the first person I call when I have good news to share. I’m the one she turns to when she needs a listening ear. We’re closer than sisters. The call came at three a.m. My best friend, Sue, is missing.

Do you really want to know about the relationship first? Or do the last two lines of that paragraph set up the story and make you want to know more?

Find your starting point--and write!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great food for thought. One of my critiquers thinks I should start my current story 7 chapters in and I'm fighting it, but who knows?
Carol McPhee

Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.
Carol McPhee:http://www.geocities.com/carolmcphee2003