Writing (Perfect) Beginnings

Last week I talked a bit about how I wanted to be a perfect writer when I first seriously started trying to get published.

That resulted in excessively long timelines to get anything done and probably much more stress than I ever wanted or needed. But I’m not talking about being a perfect writer today (or for that matter, trying to be one).

No. Instead, I’m talking about Perfect Beginnings and trying to create them. Why? Because I’m sure many of you have read the same books I have. You know the ones – they talk about how critically important it is to have an engaging first sentence/paragraph/scene/chapter?

So, having read that bit of advice and because the first sentence is…well first, I set out to create the best first sentence ever. The problem was, I hadn’t written any other part of the story. Sure, I had plotted most of it. Sure, I had character sketches of most of the characters.

So, I wrote the first sentence over and over again. Every time I thought I had it and tried writing the second sentence I realized it still wasn’t right. And when I got past the second sentence, usually the third proved troublesome.

It took me a long time (two years – I’m a very slow learner) to realize the problem wasn’t necessarily me nor was it the story. The problem was I was writing a line for a story I still didn’t really understand. When I finally realized the problem (and it was by accident, let me tell you), I smacked myself thoroughly in the head and moved on.

By the time I got to the end of the book, I knew exactly what I wanted to say at the beginning. And the beautiful thing was, I could write it then and know it fit.

Was it perfect? Heck no, but it was a great start to the story.

It also made me rethink my obsession with writing everything linearly. I now know I can write scenes out-of-order providing I keep a good handle on the story.

How about you? Do you have any horror stories about first line/first paragraph/first whatever? I’d love to hear about them.


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