New Beginnings

There’s been enough blog talk about great beginnings that we writers should instinctively know how to create a gripping beginning.  One that lets us connect with our MC.  Doesn’t introduce too many characters too quickly.  Keeps us grounded in the moment.  Has no mention of weather.  Lacks boring dialogue.  Doesn’t start with the single most exciting event of the book which will make the remainder dry in comparison.

Sheesh, the rules are endless and concise.  And yet as I weeded my garden, pulling out the debris from last year and letting my spring sprouts poke through to the light, I couldn’t help but give my new manuscript the wrong opening sentence.  Over and over and over again.

My professor told us the sun always rose in the east.  Always. 

Ugh.  I didn’t need the opening line of a YA to start with an old geezer pontificating about science.  Kids hate that.  They get lectured enough in school.  I tugged a dead stem and mulled the sentence over in my head. 

The sun always rose in the east.  Until today.

Ach, I didn’t want my readers to really think the sun didn’t rise.  I just wanted them to question that the foundation of our lives may not be as predictable and true as it seems.  I kept pulling the winter-dry leaves of my iris, searching for a hint of new growth underneath.  I did the same with my idea, carefully shearing away the brittle wording so as not to disrupt a new sprout.

When my boyfriend told me he loved me, I believed him.  But that was yesterday.  Today…

Lame-o.  That could be a thousand different storylines, and I hated the whiney feel of this sentence.  My MC is ego-centric.  Not a whiner.  She’s a fighter whose whole life changes in the blink of a night.

I needed to put my MC in the forefront.  Let her tell her story, not hint around to the rest of the world.  She’s ego-centric.  And she has every right to be, because until today, she’s been treated that way.  As if she’s special.

But I didn’t want all that back story.  I just needed a simplistic way to let the reader know life is no longer the same, all the while letting my MC ‘s inner spirit shine through.  Back to tugging more leaves, praying for green and tapping my mental keyboard.

Yesterday I believed the sun would always rise in the east.  I believed Cassidy when she twined her pinky around mine and promised we would be besties forever.  I believed Mom when she buttered my toast and told me I was the most important thing in the world to her, that she would lay down her life for me.  I believed the words as they spilled from Jackson’s mouth.  He loved me and would never leave me.

But that was yesterday.

Today the sun doesn’t rise at all and I feel like Jesus being denied by Peter.  Today, I don’t believe anything.

Knowing me, I’ll tweak this beginning to death, but for now, I think I cleared away enough debris and found the new growth underneath.  Of course, it could just be me.  I do that often enough with my writing.  Seeing a glimmer of goodness and declaring it the most beautiful thing in the world. 

Like my iris, I will continue to nurture the spring sprouts of this new idea, pampering them and believing in them until the leaves give way to stems, stems to buds and buds to stunning blooms. 

I love new beginnings!  Now if only I remember to water this one…

Is it easy for you to write new beginnings, or do you start with a well mapped idea and struggle to put down the opening lines that will lead you to the meat of your story?

Do you have a first line or two you’ like to share?

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13 responses to “New Beginnings

  1. Hi Cat, I really like that beginning. The voice comes right through and it makes me want to know what happens next. Good job!

  2. I like that beginning a lot, too. But I understand about the tweaking. First pages are irresistible, I redo them over and over and over.

    • Patricia,

      I have so many “beginnings” I could write a book about beginnings. I love how they form out of nowhere and demand to get written down. Even if they will be nothing more than a beginning in a file for me to look at someday and think, “You know, I should really write that story now.”

      They are a bit irresistible, aren’t they?

  3. I really like that beginning. I’m not so great at them. Here are the first couple lines from my current wip:
    The pounding beat of the music matched her heartbeat. Nigh was beyond nervous. She swallowed the knot rising in her throat and tried to steady her shaking hands.

    This will undoubtedly be changed as I’m shifting pov to 1st.
    I love spring and all the promise of new life and fresh starts. Great post.

  4. I would lose the Jesus reference and replace it with a pop-culture reference. You don’t want to hit YA with religiosity right of the bat. I suspect people will argue with me but unless you’re targeting YA Christian, I’d aim for the larger market.
    Honestly, I don’t get the reference and you lost me right there. (please don’t explain it either).

    • Andrew, it gets explained in the next paragraph and the reference is integral to the story–which happens to be a Christian YA–at the moment.

      I appreciate your commentary–especially since I lost you.

  5. Is there a writer who has ever had an easy time with beginnings? What a strange person…. I struggle with everything, though I have to admit I sometimes have a great conclusion idea.

  6. I like it! It has a great feel lls me right in.

    I have a hard time with beginnings, but I’m getting better 🙂

  7. I have to agree with Andrew about the Jesus reference. If the next paragraph explains it more, I’m sure I’ll get it, but right now it really stuck out at me. Do folks who read Christian YA expect Christianity references so soon? Is there room to be more subtle, or to ease into it?

  8. I love new beginnings, too. I often just start writing and see where an opening takes me, which sometimes is nowhere at all! I still enjoy tinkering with them, tho.

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