New beginning

Yesterday, I changed the beginning of a ms I’d already finished, and I like it so much better now. I liked the first one, too, until I posted it in a blog contest where everyone submitted their first paragraph.

Now, I opened with a dead body. My ms is an urban fantasy (the contest wasn’t limited to this), and I thought opening with a body would be dramatic. Well, to make a long story short, so did everyone else.

So many dead bodies! Granted, most of those were from mystery or thriller ms’s, but damn! So I started to think that I should open with something else. I moved the narrative back a little bit and showed what led to the dead body, and suddenly, the scene wasn’t about the body anymore. It was about the mc, the person it should have been about the entire time.

I’ve come to understand that little online contests are good for this sort of thing. I could see what everyone else was doing, and I could try to make ms a little different. Maybe I’ve finally clued into a reason for all those rejections. I hope I have. I’ve got much more confidence in my opening now than I ever did.

Are openings this hard for anyone else? Is the beginning even more important than the end, just because that’s what an agent or editor sees first?

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6 thoughts on “New beginning

  1. I think beginnings are key to hooking a reader’s interest, so if they don’t do the job it doesn’t matter how great the ending is.

    I posted the first few paragraphs of my novel on the critique section of a forum, and I was amazed that some people totally misinterpreted what I’d written. I’ve moved that scene and revised it, but haven’t figured out exactly where the story should start. I’m trying out several possibilities but waiting to make up my mind on one until the major revisions are done on the middle. The middle is giving me trouble, too. Nonfiction is so much easier to write.

  2. Barbara,

    Good commentary on how to begin a novel. It is easy for us writers to open with too much drama or too much back story. Finding the balance between them and adding MC connection is so important. Especially in juvenile literature. Kids don’t have time to keep reading if they don’t feel a connection.

    Nice observation.

  3. Something similar happened to me. I entered a contest and a couple months later looked at Ch. 1 and realized it needed a change. Turns out the change I did is the one they said I needed!

    • It’s great when it works out that way, Carolyn. Now I just have to dig up an agent who hasn’t seen this project recently. That, or wait until enough time goes by that they’ve forgotten it and then send them the new version. ^_^ If they don’t mind requeries, that is.

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