1. Mojo88
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    Mojo88 New Member

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    Getting started...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mojo88, Jul 15, 2009.

    Ive been trying to write a fantasy novel for quite some time now, but I'm unable to get more than a few chapters down before I give up and start again... I have my characters fairly fleshed out, and I haven even drawn a map of my world. My main problem is coming up with a decent opening - one that will keep readers interested and wanting to read on. I've tried a dramatic chase scene through the woods. I've tried the farmboy hunting in the woods. I've tried a group of dwarfed chatting noisily in a tavern about wars in a nearby kingdom.

    My problem is that I have something in mind, I just don't know how to get started on the correct path. I'm actually a little worried; if I'm having this much trouble getting started, how will I possibly be able to persevere through an entire novel?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    You need to figure out what your opening scene will be and how it will be relating to the story. An opening scene can set the stage, introduce characters, and jump start the action. Dump the reader into the middle of something interesting that will make them want to keep reading to figure out what's going on.

    Openers that catch my eye, usually make me question what the hell is going on, thus force me to keep reading. I like not knowing what's happening, because it makes me what to read. This is why just telling the reader at the beginning with an info dump, is very bad when it comes to openings.

    I enjoy when the first paragraph or two give some hint of where it is, show at least one character, and start off in the middle of a dilemma. I don't like openings that start off telling me every little bit about the weather, the land, the stage on which the play will be performed. I want to see the spot light on the actors, the stage pitch black, and have those characters doing SOMTHING ! Then the curtain can pull back, the spotlight fad into the background lighting, showing the rest of the world.

    I hope I explained that right.

    So just start the story. If you have some idea where your plot is going, just start it where it feels natural. If later you find the beginning doesn't work so well, change it then. But don't fret about the beginning as a way of procrastinating the actual writing. If you are doing that, then you have some fears to address before you can begin.
     
  3. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    When books on writing say to start with action, they don't mean a chase scene or a hunt, but rather just start off with a scene, with characters doing something.

    For some great openings, check out Octavia Butler. You can read the beginning of a lot of her novels on Amazon.
     
  4. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    So, to get this straight, your getting a few chapters in, and then deciding that your opening isn't good enough? Your problem is you've already got your critical head on, and it's interfereing with your writing. I had this problem for the past few months and have only just managed to break it. I've been editing one thing for so long that I couldn't just write, it had to be 'publisher perfect' first time round.

    If your a few chapters into the story, then you shouldn't be thinking too much about your opening by now. If your having trouble writing the story chronologically - in the context of the narrative, at least - then try writing certain important scenes at intervals along the plot. So maybe write something eventful, like a major plot point, that could happen around, say, chapter 15, and then go back and fill in the things that need to move the story on from the point it is in the last chapter you wrote, up until the event happens. Then flesh it all out, and you may just find you've managed to write another good chunk of the novel.

    Ultimatley you need to stop worrying about the beginning until you get to the end.
     
  5. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    I agree. I hate it when novels begin with an all in war and I have no idea what's going on. If I haven't worked out who's who and what's what by a couple of pages, I put it down. There is suspense and then there is utter confusion. I find once I know what's going on, I need to go back and read it again - not good IMO. (Although that could say more about me than the book, LOL)

    The best advice I ever got on this site, which I have all but carved into my forehead is: Don't get it right, get it written.

    Good luck
     
  6. DarrenW
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    DarrenW Member

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    My advice is don't even think about writing "Chapter One" until you have all of your novel planned out on paper. That means all the main plots, subplots, twists, turns, denoument etc. I understand it is SOOOO tempting to jump right in, but you can see for yourself what tends to happen. Spending the time plotting means that when you do come to right the 1st draft, you could get in done in a few weeks. Hope this helps.:)
     
  7. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    My advice is similar to what everyone else has said.

    Just write. Dont' worry about the perfect intro right now, that's what revisions are for. Get something down and just keep on going.

    I had similar issues as you, I didn't know where to start the story and I didn't know how. I knew that I wanted to show my character was depressed, and sought death. I also knew that I wanted it to eventually lead into a death match with someone in which he wins and has a new respect for life.

    What I decided to do was just to start the book off with the death match.

    I hope this helps, I know how frustrating openings can be (or should I say I know how frustrating openings ARE?)
     
  8. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Relax. You're not on a deadline. Nobody has any particular expectations of you right now but you. allow yourself to enjoy the process.
     
  9. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    At least you didn't give up period, eh? ;)

    Maps are, in my opinion, pretty overrated.

    Keep in mind that you just want a decent opening, not a perfect one. Wanting to snag the reader's interest right away is all good and well, but don't get too hung up on it. It's not life or death, at least not this early.

    Just start at the beginning. What's the first thing you think your readers ought to learn about? What's the first thing you want to say about your story? And if it was you reading it, what kind of opening would you have find captivating?
     
  10. JustaLittleFiction
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    JustaLittleFiction Banned

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    I agree with this. Just getting the ideas of the book on paper will give you a better idea of how to start the whole thing. As you brainstorm ideas for the entire work, the beginning may fill itself in for you.

    I do generally have a full outline of the book before I start, but I know a lot of people who don't.
     
  11. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    Do you have a plot outlined? Even roughly? I know for me to be able to write, I need to just make myself do it. Come up with something - anything - whether it is good or not. The most important part is having something to work from. Once you get going, it gets easier to see what your characters will do next, as you get to know them better.
    Of course, none of this works for me if I don't have a general plot outline first - I need to know where they are going, and what the characters motivations are.

    I went through and edited my work every day before I got started, until my book was about 30 pages long, then I just read yesterdays work, fixed it up some where it didn't portray the feeling I wanted it to, which gave me a base - somewhere to start today's work. It let me get back into the characters heads, focussed my mind.

    It is hard to sit with a blank page and pull words out of the air - but once you just make yourself sit down and do it, you might surprise yourself. Don't quit so soon - you can re-write anything later on, if that particular intro doesn't fit with your story. I know I cut whole scenes out, inserted more appropriate ones, etc, as my plot progressed to make more sense to the overall story. I even added a small prologue scene, to introduce a few things about the world that are vital to understanding the plot, so what I first thought would be the start, actually isn't. Which is good, because it wouldn't have been something that made much sense without this prior knowledge obtained in the prologue scene.

    The main idea is to just have fun with it. Write for yourself, not for anyone else. Write the story YOU would want to read.
     

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