Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - In the Beginning

Still gleaning tips from Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V Swain. Now that you've identified the focus character of the story, the goals, the coming problems, how do you begin? There are as many ways to begin as there are stories. I know I write the first scene many times trying out a number of ways. What I have found is the story has to begin when there is a possibility of change.

The story can begin moments before the change takes place, during the change or moments after the change has occurred.

The first kind of beginning usually involves a relaxed opening where the character or characters, the setting and any other pictures you want to create are shown to the reader. One thing with this kind of opening is to develop the tension, showing in subtle ways that something is about to happen. Establishing the mood or tone is vital to this opening to lure the reader into the story.

When the opening takes place in the middle of the action the goals and motivations must be made clear. This kind of opening can have problems. If you start with a totally chaotic scene with lots of action the problem becomes how to maintain the tension in the scenes to follow.

The third way to open is after the change has taken place and here you need to show the focus character's decision to take action.

In all openings the focus character and any other characters needed to carry the scene need to be there. Too many characters up front can confuse the reader. The setting needs to be made clear. The focus character's goals and reasons for these goals need to be established and the problems to come must be at least hinted.

I've probably used all of these openings in various stories but I find the first one is usually the way I begin. Often this part of the story is drastically cut or left out immediately.

1 comment:

Melissa Keir said...

I think powerful openings are what draw the readers in. :)