Saturday, August 31, 2013

I've Got Great Second Chapters!

As I was doing rewrites for my Kindle Worlds short story (now available!), I realized something about my own writing. The beginnings of my stories are consistently the parts I end up rewriting the most. And I think I’ve figured out why.

I know what you’re thinking: “Because beginnings are hard, Brian.” And yes, that is true, actually starting a story is arguably the most difficult part of writing it. But for me, I think the problem I have with beginnings is that I am trying to do something different with them than what a reader is actually looking for.

A reader is looking to be grabbed by your opening. They want your opening to have punch. They want a reason to keep reading, and get to all the really cool stuff that you have to show them later on.

My problem is that I often find myself doing a lot of worldbuilding in my opening chapters. I want to show this world I’ve created to the reader, or get into the backstory of the hero or villain. Because of this, the first draft of my opening scenes are often too slow. They lack the immediate hook that pulls the reader in and doesn’t let them go.

What I’ve found, is that I’m really good at writing second chapters.

For Courting the King in Yellow, the opening scene was crafted well after the main story was finished, and it eventually ended up as the prologue. Much to my relief, I’ve received a good amount of feedback from people stating they love the opening scene of the book. I can’t imagine having put the story out with its original opening.

In my Kindle Worlds short story, I added an entirely new opening scene (and character) after hearing back from beta readers that the opening wasn’t grabbing them. It was then I realized that I had rewritten the opening to Private Showing as well.

There’s a reason people say that writing is rewriting. I need to get that first draft out of my head before I can really think about whether a story’s beginning, middle or ending works. So, while I strive to write better opening scenes in my first drafts, I suspect I’ll still be spending a good bit of my writing time firming up those beginnings.

Do you have certain points of a story that you have consistently struggled with?