Where Do I Start?

Last summer I finished my second book (1st trying to get published) and since then I have had some Saintly friends read it and give me some feedback. Since then I have poked and prodded at it; adding four chapters and then eliminating many useless words. That, had, very, just, etc. (By the way if I see the word suddenly in a book within the first ten pages, I get “judgy”).

After poking at it I started to query agents, so far no takers which has me wondering about the beginning of my book. When you query you only send in the first five to ten pages, so you have to make an impact quick. I have chopped the first two chapters down from pointless babbling to a little get to know our main character as she walks into a house she pretty much bought off the internet without visiting.

I am starting to wonder if this is a mistake.

A few of my beta readers have had problems getting into the book. They of course have lives and in many cases small children that don’t allow for much SSR. And believe me I really appreciate that they would even offer to spend any of their personal time reading, but I do think perhaps it’s not just the bambinos that are making them put down the book.

I think I need to start at a different point in the story.

There are all kinds of “rules” of where you should start your story.

Don’t start it when your character wakes up

Don’t open with dialogue

Don’t start with a dream

Don’t start with too much information

Don’t start with too little information

and no “it was a dark and stormy night”

So where in the hell are you supposed to start? I’m still trying to figure that out.

Ironically I think I stuck the landing. At the end of the book the story is complete but it still gives a feeling of the world in the book continuing (and hopefully it will). I think it helped that my husband is such a stickler for the endings of books and movies. I’ve listen to his reviews over the years and I know what frustrates him as a reader/viewer and I try not to walk into the same traps. Maybe I should get him to start reviewing the beginnings of books and movies too.

One of the beta readers (Mortdecai) suggested a prologue that features a character that is not alive in book, but makes the story possible. She was intrigued by the character and wanted to know more about her. I have messed around with this idea in my head, but then again another rule is “don’t start with a prologue”. Bloody Hell! Heck, screw the rules.

So fast forward to this last weekend where I went to a local Writer’s Group. You were allowed to bring 3 pages of something you had written and read it allowed and get feedback.

I chose to bring pages from the second chapter, about 1700 words in. I wanted to see if my dialogue was engaging.

It was, they wanted to know what happened next and they loved Nina who only had 200 words of page time. Whistle (Mortdecai’s husband) protested the week before not to cut Nina’s intro when I mentioned eliminating the first few chapters of the book… Everyone loves Nina, I love Nina. So now after hearing nine people’s feedback on the subject I think I need to start as close to Nina as possible.

It was a dark and stormy night, Nina was out walking alone in her purple cowboy boots.

Haha.

Where you do you like to start your stories? How did you decide that was the best place to begin?

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Ridiculous Cuteness & Subtle Inspiration

Right now my cats are sun bathing in the corners of the house that they hid away from this weekend. Kudra, Porter, and their ridiculously cute daughter visited over the weekend. With the exception of a late night visit by Bailey when the grown ups talked downstairs, the cats kept themselves tucked away in our bedroom for the two night stay. I should mention that the ridiculously cute daughter is just 8 months old and crawling. When our guests arrived Bailey ran to his favorite hiding place, which unfortunately was under the guest bed. He came out eventually though, one little cry out of the baby and Bailey’s loud paw steps ran from one side of the house to the other over our heads. The cats have been shy to begin with, but I think we finally found Bailey’s kryptonite. Poor Hitch hid in our closet all weekend only coming out at night. If we had ever had kids it seems possible that we would have creatures in the closets that only came out while you slept. That wouldn’t be psychologically damaging for anyone, no..no.

Other than the cats long game of hide-and-go-seek (which I’m sure they took a break from when we went out all of Saturday) it was a nice weekend with friends. We exchanged our little crafty things with one another. The guys exchanged their homebrews and Porter gave us a bottle of his homemade hot sauce made with Carolina Reaper peppers. Kudra gifted me with a Happy Heart scented oil roller and an Olbas oil inhaler, not to mention a bottle of Elderberry syrup (which I just started making myself). I gave her an infused oil and two bags of kale, because that’s the only thing in our garden thriving in this wonky weather. We ate BBQ, drank a little bourbon, and then the guys and I talked about politics late into the night. On Saturday we visited a few local breweries, heard a great band, and then went home and had a homemade lasagna before all being in bed at a more decent hour.

On Sunday Porter made one of his famous fritatas and I danced with their daughter to post-punk revival music while they packed up. Trust me, the kid loved it.

I enjoyed their visit and hope next time I can convince them to come out when it is green and warm. They only seem to come out in the winter when the trees are bare and the outdoor seating chills you through your jeans. Not that I blame them-why you would drive away from the coast in summer? But I’ll keep trying. It’s wonderful to have them over, lots of laughter and kind words to one another. They also get my brain working in ways that usually doesn’t happen around most people. I even had a dream while they were here that would make a good Sci-Fi story, a genre I have never considered writing before.

How about you guys? Are there people in your life that inspire you in fun ways just by being themselves?