by Olivia Cunning
Figuring out where a story begins can be one of the most difficult things for a writer. If you start too early, you end up with a bunch of back story that has no bearing on the plot. If you start too late, your readers might not feel connected to your characters before you throw those characters in front of the proverbial tour bus. If readers don't care about your characters, they might stop reading. Finding that perfect spot to begin your novel can be a challenge.
Starting Backstage Pass was relatively easy. It starts a few minutes before the hero, lead guitarist Brian Sinclair, and the heroine, human sexuality professor Myrna Evans, meet for the first time. Here's a little parody I made of their meeting.
No, it's not REALLY this silly when they meet. This is what happens when I'm trapped in all-day meetings at work. I find ways to amuse myself. If you'd like to read the real first chapter, which is still funny, but not "dumb" it's here: Backstage Pass Chapter One
I'd started the story too late.
How did I know that?
Several second readers couldn't understand why the heroine was so hostile toward the hero when they meet again. I decided it was because they'd already been mucking around in Sed's thoughts and have connected with him -- aww, the poor, misunderstood playboy. No amount of Jessica saying/thinking what a jerk he was would suffice. Jeez, Jessica, can't you read his thoughts? He's changed. Em, no, she can't. I needed the reader to connect with the heroine first, so they could understand her reluctance to get tangled up with this guy again. So I went back and started the story with the day Jessica broke up with Sed, so the reader can see that he really was a huge jerk. I also added a second chapter to allow the reader to connect with Jessica in the present, before we get into Sed's pining-for-her POV. I think it works so much better than the original beginning. I guess we'll find out when it releases in April. Initially, Rock Hard had a rocky beginning. I just hope it doesn't show in the much-revised version.
2011 looks to be another great year for Sinners. Rock Hard has some big shoes to fill in April. The third book in the series, Hot Ticket, is slotted to release in October. I'm still waiting to hear what revisions are needed on that one. *chews fingernails*
Have you ever struggled to find the right place to begin your story? Or have you read a book that just seemed to start in the wrong place?