April 24, 2007

Getting Out of the Starting Gate

I can't say I've done a great job of starting this week with a bang--I'm behind on blog reading, not to mention blog posting--but I did revise another chapter of my novel, and slowly but surely progress is being made. Eventually I'll get through the thing, and then I can submit my proposal, hoping that my first few chapters will really blow people away.

That's something writers have to spend a LOT of time on, especially new authors still trying to find an editor or agent--that all-important novel or story beginning. The right beginning can suck you right into a novel or story, or it can turn you off so that you put the book down and never finish it. Good chapter beginnings, too, can propel a story forward

Here at Finding Wonderland, we discuss craft issues like this from time to time in our already-existing writing group. But this week we've decided to hold an OPEN DISCUSSION ON CRAFT this Wednesday, April 25 (i.e., tomorrow) at 7:30 pm PST for about 30-45 minutes. If you're interested, please leave a comment or e-mail us directly and we will send you details about joining the chat. It will most likely be in a chat room on AOL Instant Messenger (though I must admit, all these YALSA events on Second Life are pretty intriguing...). Some questions to think about for our chat on BEGINNINGS:

  • What makes a compelling beginning or a bad one?

  • When do added elements--such as TadMack's recipes or the playing cards in Markus Zusak's I Am the Messenger--serve the beginning of a story or chapter, and when are they simply gimmicky?

  • Prologues, flashbacks--when do these help, and when do they slow down momentum?

  • Introducing your main character(s)--what are some effective ways of doing this? Of bringing her/his personality and appearance to life without slowing down the opening scene?

There's a little bit of homework, too--If you've got time, find one or more examples of a novel/chapter beginning you REALLY LIKE and one or more examples of a beginning that really didn't work for you, and we can discuss why they worked, or didn't, during the chat. But even if you don't have time to do that, you're still welcome to participate or even just listen in. And remember: we don't have to discuss EVERYTHING in that list up there, nor are we limited to those topics. Think about what would be most helpful for YOU in your writing process, and what draws you as a reader. Hope to see some of you frequent commenters there!

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