1. Liza
    Offline

    Liza Active Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    4

    Beginning? Clueless. Help.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Liza, Aug 15, 2011.

    I've started my introduction about three times, and it's getting on my nerves. I cannot start well. I decided to "just write" and edit later, but honestly, even that isn't working too well. Let me show you what I mean:

    Attempt One:
    The boy was gone again, much to Lucy's frustration. Austin never listened to her, even when it was important. And right now, it was important. "Even when our ship sinks, he doesn't listen to me." Lucy sighed, knowing that she had to find him, and quickly. Austin had a tendency to find trouble anywhere he went.

    Attempt Two:
    If only her mother wasn't so old-fashioned, and she hadn't forced Lucy to wear a dress.
    Hiking up her skirts, Lucy stumbled through the forest as fast as her feet could carry her. Why? Because her brother had run off, even though she repeatedly told him not to. Swerving to avoid a birch, Lucy reflected on the situation. Austin, truth be told, hardly ever listened to her. It wasn't all that surprising. Only, this time it's serious, thought Lucy. We're in a place nobody has ever gone before.

    Attempt Three:
    It was strange, a civilized city amidst the oceans. The scene below quite reminded Lucy of 19th century England. Women in long dresses stood in groups, probably gossiping, and the men held their own conversations amongst each other. Most astoundingly, Lucy saw buildings.

    Frankly, I don't know how to start, and the third attempt is absoloutely dreadful and scattered writing. I am clueless on how to describe a city/village/town, I think I decided I would do that with the last attempt. Any tips? I honestly need to start my story off in some way that I won't absoloutely cringe at. How do you go about describing such a scene?
     
  2. BFGuru
    Offline

    BFGuru Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2011
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Somewhere in insomiaville
    Hmmm. I don't start with an introduction really. I just jump in and see where things take me. Unless of course you count my back story. I don't know.

    Each attempt you show indicates a different scenery entirely..a ship, the woods, a strange island in the middle of the ocean. Perhaps you need to clarify the setting a little further?
     
  3. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I liked the first "attempt" better, it got me into the story in a nanosecond. Those first words, "the boy was gone again" are brilliant IMO. makes you wanna know more.
     
  4. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I'm having a little difficulty in finding the common threads in these three attempts. I mean, I get the fact that Austin doesn't listen to Lucy, and that it annoys her a lot. But I'm trying to get a sense of what else is going on, or what I might expect from your story, and I can't seem to do that.

    All in all, I like this the best. It gives me an expectation of attraction/irritation of Lucy toward Austin. My only problem is with the phrase "Even when our ship sinks". Whoa! A ship is sinking?? If I take that literally, then it's a jarring event, not a time for contemplative reflection by Lucy on what she doesn't like about Austin. The ship should be sinking first, maybe let us know why, and then move on to her worrying about Austin. OTOH, if this is figurative or symbolic, let the reader know that, too.

    Okay, we've gone from sinking ships to stumbling through a forest. It's not just the introduction that's changed, it's the entire setting. Also, eliminate "Why?" because it breaks the reader's concentration. You're now talking to the reader rather than telling your story. Also, I would eliminate the whole sentence beginning with "Swerving to avoid a birch..." We already know Lucy is in a forest, so the birch adds nothing, and running through a forest searching for someone is not a time for reflective contemplation.

    How does one have a city (civilized or otherwise) amidst oceans? Are we back on the ship? But then, where would the buildings be? I'm assuming for the moment that you are writing something in the fantasy realm, and so you would likely be able to work all of that out.

    I think you're probably doing two things that are causing you problems. You're trying to do too much with the opening, and you're trying to be descriptive. And, hey, isn't that what we writers are supposed to do?

    In my openings, I like to start in the middle of something, so I put my MC in the middle of a problem, quandry, crisis, dilemma (take your pick). It doesn't have to be drenched in action, but it should be something that makes the reader want to know more. She can be sitting at a desk, having just read a letter, struggling for breath, trying to understand how this could have happened, and what will Rod think. And the reader, who to this point doesn't know what the room or the house or the town/city/country looks like, will likely be thinking 1) what in heaven's name is in the letter, 2) who is Rod? and 3) why does it matter what he thinks?

    As for descriptions, try describing the places you know best. I incorporate a lot of New York City in my writing because I've lived here all my life and I (for some reason) love the place. More to the point, I love writing about it. So, in my descriptions, I already know what I need and what I don't need because I can picture the action in a certain place and time. People today seem to think writing fantasy novels is easier because you're not constrained by reality. I would think that would make it harder, because there's so much more world you have to invent. If you are writing about an imaginary place, your own Middle Earth, let's say, then you should still try describing a place you know, then rewrite the same piece, but substituting the realities of your imaginary world for the real one.

    Good luck.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Liza
    Offline

    Liza Active Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    4
    Wow, thank you! This helped me so much, and I got a strange but wonderful burst of muse, in fact, enough to write 300 words so far. I took your advice and focused a little more on the ship sinking, so it certainly sounds much better now. Again, my sincere thanks, because my beginning is always the hardest. :)
     
  6. VM80
    Offline

    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,211
    Likes Received:
    43
    Location:
    UK

    Start with a punch.

    I think either of the sentences above would make for a good opening. There's something interesting there that makes me want to know more.
     
  7. JackElliott
    Offline

    JackElliott Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2011
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    12
    In truth, all of these are fine. Some better than others, of course. But for the most part the only difference among them is scope. It might be easier to understand if you visualize camera shots. The third attempt feels like an establishing shot, very wide, we are presented with the city. From there it quickly gets closer to Lucy, the main character.

    Maybe you are having difficulty with the beginning because you do not yet know which shot to use -- distant or close. Pretty sure everyone goes through this. I'd even argue that you might not truly understand how to craft your opening until you get further into the story, perhaps all the way to the end. So don't let the beginning be such a trouble -- just get into the story, get its momentum behind you.

    That said, I do think the first example is the most intriguing for reasons already mentioned. The issue I have is the boy is introduced as "the boy", and on its heels as "Austin" and it sounds almost as if they are two different characters. Let "the boy" be his identity for a short while. So the sentences should be corrected to read, "He never listened to her", etc.
     

Share This Page