Beginnings have always come rather easy for me. It’s the only part of the story that does come easy for me. I’ll get an idea for a future project, and the beginning is just there and the idea expands off that. I think in all the stories I’ve written, I’ve only changed the beginning once from the original.
As writers we know the beginning is pivotal. We all want that opening that’ll push every person who considers our book for purchase to actually buy it. It’s a wonderful dream, but the reality is—it’s just not possible. Even mega-best sellers have people who put the book back after reading the first couple of pages. So I’ve always written openings that grab me as a reader and try not to stress over it too much.
I liked to be dropped in the middle of the action. Now that doesn’t mean a gunfight or some other scuffle, though those are great too. The action could be the middle of a conversation, or a snappy first line that immediately peaks my interest. I know it’s been said that starting a book with conversation is a no-no, but to be honest, those tend to grabs the reader in me the quickest. I don’t need an elaborate set up to grab me into a story. I need one great opening paragraph. That’s all it takes. If that paragraph gets me, then you have yourself a reader. If I have to scan to find what grabs me, then unless what I find is spectacular, I’ll put the book back.
So I keep this stuff in mind when I start a new story. I try for straight to the point openings. No beating around the bush, just bang and we’re off starts.
With The Panther’s Lair my opening lines are: Mission “Get Laid” in progress. From a booth in a dark corner of the Panther’s Lair, Sydney Chase scanned the crowded dance floor, searching for any male who captured her attention. The plan was simple. Locate and engage.
Why’d I start here? Because there was nowhere else for me to start. LOL. Yeah I could have started with Sydney getting ready to go to the club. But why would I? That’s just a change of scenery I’d have to deal with and there wasn’t anything important that had to be revealed at home. So why not the car ride to the club? Again, she has to get into the club, so I’m dealing with unnecessary movement to get from point A to point B. Slows the pace. So why wouldn’t I start the story with Sydney at the club, already up to her eyeballs in her purpose for being there? Straight to the point.
For my upcoming release Defying Convention, which will be under my other pen name, Abby Niles, my open is: The stormtrooper stalked dead center down the wide hallway, his blaster rifle at the ready. The white plastic armor clacked with each determined step. Emma Portland fought a groan. Here we go again.
Again. Simply dropped into the middle of the scene that actually starts the story. There were many places I could have started Defying Convention: Emma speaking with her boss before being sent to on her assignment, Emma asking her brother to come with her to the convention, or the car ride over. Since a majority of this book takes place at a Sci-fi convention, I couldn’t fathom starting anywhere but Emma already at the convention, taking it all in.
So there is my reasoning for why I start stories in the places I do. I love writing beginnings. I love the energy that comes with it. Stress doesn’t start hitting me until somewhere in the middle and I’m dealing with sagging middles. Then there is the end…but that’s another story.