Today’s writing discussion: The Opening.
I’m writing a new book and this time I’m outlining. The pantser in me be damned… (Google panster vs plotter.) Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of research on outlining so you might as well come along with me for my journey and we can learn together!
The first thing I want to talk about is the opening. Often it is what gives the writer the most grief. You need a strong opening. You need something that catches the reader; a hook. You need something that hasn’t been done before … yeah right!
You get caught up in grammar, punctuation, dialogue, and before you know it —you give up. No! None of that is important yet. You will edit 1,000 times over, later. (And then when your editor *gets hold of it* you’ll edit again … but that’s for another day!)
TODAY I’m urging you to keep going. Write the opening you’ve envisioned. You know it’s there. But the most important thing is to start.
The last thing you need to think about is the daunting task of maintaining word counts. When you stop stressing about it, you’ll realize that many books don’t have a very long first chapter. It could be a page. It could be a paragraph. It just has to make the reader want to read more. Who are your main characters? What do they want?
It’s easy to want to unload a lot of explanation about the character’s past and reasons for doing something, making it super long, but the reader isn’t invested yet, so it doesn’t matter (right now). But keep it, save it for later in the book.
Tips to make this first step less daunting?
1. Save your chapters on separate documents (personal preference if you wish) so it makes it easier to cut/paste and move sections/topics around and into the chapter that makes better sense.
2. Bring your margins in so your 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet looks like a 6 x 9 book. The margins on the sides will be used when you eventually hit print and your editor can get out the red pen!
3. Grab a large mug of coffee or tea and a box of tissues, a pen, and notebook. Plug in the laptop so you won’t have to get up.
4. Open a word doc and turn the WIFI off. You’ll thank me later.