The wonderful K.M. Weiland posted recently that one way to know you're a writer is how much you obsess over your opening to your book. It is also something I talked to my mom about recently. I love writing but I feel as though I always want to start around chapter five. I struggle to hook the reader and draw them in then create the foundation for that big event that ignites the rest of the story. It is always that moment I can't wait to get to as I am writing because then it feels to me like the adventure truly begins.
When I read or write murder mysteries the death happens almost immediately but for some of my other dramas there are a few chapters that come in to set the tone, introduce the characters and their relationship before any inciting incident comes into play. For those books it is important but difficult for me to draw the readers in, make them care, then bring them on the journey of those characters as the real story begins.
When I sent the first ten pages of two of my stories to agents / editors at the conference earlier this year I was excited to get their feedback. I was curious about my ability to make them want to know more based on just those first few pages. Both people I sent them to asked me for more information but only one in a good way. The editor I sent Voices In My Head to suggested getting rid of the majority of the first ten pages. He gave me some ideas for improving the parts that were left but just as my mind wants to do, he suggested I start further into the story.
The second agent liked the story beginning. Her suggestion was more on point of view for the characters because there are so many main characters in the story. Just like there are a number of characters, there are just as many reasons that all the characters have ended up being who and what they are. I completed the first full draft and am now writing novellas for each of the characters to give the more in depth backgrounds.
I write my stories then go back and rewrite the beginning at least five times before I give up and call it good enough. The end is always on my mind. The characters talk to me constantly but there is something that holds me back when it comes to that opening scene. I am working to get better but, along with dialogue, it continues to be one of the biggest battles I have in my writing.