I realized yesterday how fortunate it is that I write several threads into my books – it gives me a choice of which one to launch from, which beginning to use.
As many of you know, I’m working on my third book, still tweaking and swapping things about, and still plenty more to write and play with. So, what the heck am I doing now?
Well, my first choice for the opening scene was quite good. It got you straight into the story, put you right there on scene and in the thick of it, and I liked it.
I changed it when I ripped out another thread – yes, the one that collapsed everything (or at least I thought so). The replacing stuff had to be more dynamic, something that brought in… let’s say the abrupt challenge I was looking for to ramp up everything that thread is about. Having worked something out, it seemed natural to lead off with it, so my opening for that thread moved up to the first page.
So far, so good. What I originally had was moved into second place and I added some good description in front of it, which is necessary and fits so perfectly I am loathe to change it back (as a beginning, that lovely description might work for some but not likely for others. I prefer a fast-paced start to a book).
Yesterday, however, after rereading what I have so far from scratch, that dynamic replacement beginning turns out not to be so dynamic, after all. The action is there, which is gripping enough when you get to it, but dialogue comes first and, as intriguing and short as that might be, it doesn’t grab the same way as immediate action might.
Cut the dialogue? No, for two reasons. The most important is because then you haven’t met the character and the action won’t matter (as a reader, you won’t care). The second is that the dialogue wouldn’t happen later, and it introduces important information.
What’s left, then, if that beginning doesn’t work? Well, there’s option number three, the third thread. It was actually reading the opening of that third thread that made me sit up and pay attention. My first choice for lead was probably better than my second choice. My first choice, even though it was more description and attitude rather than action, did hold attention.
Choice two was dialogue with some action quickly happening, but not quickly enough.
Choice three, though, choice three is interesting. From the very first sentence you’re caught up in the want for more information. What-the-heck-is-going-on and this-sounds-interesting type of grab-at-you stuff that I’m after.
So, choice three is now in first place, choice one stays at second place while choice two is relegated to third place. Which meant balancing out the rest of the chapter by rearranging that to match it.
Does it work? I think so. I would like to give an unequivocal Yes to that, but I’ll only know for sure on my next read through (probably next week). I’m running with it for now and it does seem the better choice.
This is otherwise known as fiddling about – all essential, though, I assure you.
Have a great day, folks.