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….) 😉
Beginnings are sooo tough for me. As a pantser, I’m never fully sure where the book is going to go, so it’s hard for me to layer in what I need to in the beginning. But sadly, I have a hard time moving forward if I don’t have the beginning right. Sigh. Endless grinding circle…
Figuring out the beginning for a confessions story is easy — you start with the “uh oh” moment. But for a romance? That’s a little harder. I think it depends on the type of romance. For a romantic suspense, an action opening is good. But I’ve also read good romantic suspense openings with the heroine in crisis. I think anything can work if it’s done right.
Yes, PC, I’m a total pantser too, so I completely understand what you’re talking about!!! I wrote a synopsis this time, in the hopes it would help, but I think I’ve already deviated. And I only have 10 pages, LOL! But synopsis motivations and actual “what works on the page” motivations are different. At least they are for me.
PM, I still think that’s a good place to start in a romance! At least with some kind of “uh oh.” Yep, I agree that it has to be done right. I’ve read characters driving in their car and it worked for me, though I’ve been told that’s a no no. I’ve also read 3 pages of backstory that somehow worked, but that’s really hard to pull off. And I never attempt it! I start in media res. Or so I hope. 🙂
OH! I’m all for the dashingly handsome Sheif swooping the heroine off her feet from the get go. I love action right off the bat. Action gets me invested in the story before I really care about who the characters are. Then, when the curtain is slowly raised, I get the build up of wanting to know more.
I’ve got Oded Fehr in my brain now. Must plot Sheik book and soon.
LOL, Kathy! Get the pirate book finished first. 🙂