I'm working on a new book (because I HAVE to; no more writing when I want because I want) and the one thing that always stumps me is beginnings. I can imagine so many of them. And I often rewrite them two or three times (sometimes more, sometimes less). In SPANISH MAGNATE, RED-HOT REVENGE, the first chapter has changed from the winning entry that appeared on the IHP blog, but much is the same as that first set up.
But I can and have chucked entire opening scenes and redone them. I'm on the third incarnation of the latest book's opening. This one will stick, but it's a matter of getting those motivations clear and moving forward from there. I also have trouble with POV. Not with staying in it or making switches clear (noo, had that beat out of me years ago), but with choosing when to switch. Because switching reveals things about the other character. Do I want to reveal it just yet? Or do I want to hold on for a while and keep it a mystery?
Still, it's fun to start a new story. The possibilities are so wide open as you head into the opening scene. I always start with conflict (it'd be boring otherwise) but I can think of so many settings for that conflict. You could start in a palace, a prison, on a yacht, in a cafe — so many choices. So long as there's conflict. That is the one irreplaceable ingredient to your opening.
What kind of beginnings do you like? Dramatic? Action packed? Quieter, character-in-crisis moments? Sheikhs swooping in on horses to kidnap unsuspecting heroines? (Ahem, never mind, that was yesterday….) 😉