By Robin Kaye
Beginning a book is always difficult, especially when you don’t have that beginning scene to build the book around. I think it’s because I’m slowly changing from a seat-of-the-pants writer to a plotter in the hope that if I have the entire plot, I’ll be able to see if there are holes in it before I write the entire book. This is especially helpful since I am now writing on deadline.
Back when I was a card-carrying pantser, a scene would pop into my head and like magic, I’d have a fabulous opening scene and from there the plot would flow. Now that I’m a quasi-plotter, I have the whole story line and at the very least, the hero and heroine in my mind. I know what’s going to happen in the beginning, the middle and the end. I have the conflict, the black moment and even the happy ending but where do I begin the book?
Every character has a back-story whether it’s written in the text or not. His or her entire life story is in the author’s mind. That’s how an author crafts three-dimensional characters. The author knows where the character grew up, how the character was treated by her parents and siblings, her first heartbreak, and the one thing the heroine regrets. The author knows why the heroine acts the way she does because the author is carrying around that character’s baggage.
My next book: working title, “As Good As He Gets” is a marriage-of-convenience story. My question is: does the story begin at the wedding? The proposal? During the writing of the pre-nup? What’s the most exciting? What’s going to grab the reader by the throat? Well, they can all work, or they can all fail. The thing that’s driving me crazy is that all-important first scene has yet to pop in my head and I don’t know how to make that happen.
I’ve written the first scene but it doesn’t blow my skirt up. Don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with the scene, but then, so far, there’s nothing exceptionally right with it either. Still, I can’t be rewriting the first scene over and over again. So I move on and pray that eventually genius will strike. What I want to know from writers is how do you open yourself up to genius striking? How do you begin your books?
And readers, which do you think would be better? The proposal? The wedding itself? Discussion of the pre-nup?