In case you haven’t already discovered this, or simply need a reality check, novels don’t grow in a linear fashion and first chapters don’t usually get written first. Logically, the beginning seems like the only place to start and If you were doing anything else except writing a book, it would be.
But gathering ideas for a story is like plucking at tufts of clouds and tucking them into the right places in your story without destroying their essence once you’ve flatly adhered them to paper.
The importance of opening lines can’t be stressed enough, but don’t worry about it if you’re still in the developing stage of your book. Many writers keep the final tweaking to their first chapter until late in the game. Then you’ll have a clearer vision and a better sense of where you want your reader to enter into your storyworld.
By the time you’re done writing, every detail will have to be in perfect order. But until then, writing a book is an extremely messy process.
Be prepared to get dirty.
False starts will make you crazy and character homicides will tear at your heart. Elusive, half-formed ideas will tease you from a distance like floating translucent bubbles.
As a writer, you must take these bits and pieces and make them fit perfectly together, looking to all the world as though it emerged in one long seamless ribbon of glory.
Before it’s all said and done, you have another impossible task–that of creating the perfect hook in your very first sentence, first paragraph, first chapter.
Is it any wonder writers are a little bit crazed?
So…if you don’t start your story at the beginning, where in the world do you start?
More about Story Development in my next post. Stayed tuned.