Agent Kristin Nelson’s post from Monday – Are you starting your novel in the wrong place? – really got me thinking, since I struggle with this myself. And unfortunately, I don’t have an easy solution. As a writer, I don’t know if I’m starting in the right place until the novel is finished. You can’t know where to start until you know where you’re ending. But the challenge with that is once it’s written, my brain automatically thinks that’s where it should start – correct or not.
Critique partners are very helpful in catching the blaring wrong openings – the ones that are full of back story or info dump. But sometimes it’s not something that they can think about, especially on the first pass.
As a reader, I’m usually in the camp that thinks stories should start with a bang. But I do see value in those that start a little slower too. It’s such a subjective thing that it’s difficult to come up with a solution. But I think you know when you start reading if it’s working for you or not. I’m more willing to over look a semi-slow opening if the voice is good or a mystery is presented right away.
I’m struggling with this in my new WIP. I’m opening where the story starts, but it’s not necessarily where the action starts – and at that point, there’s not really a mystery or conflict yet. It worries me, but since it’s first draft, I’ll leave as is for now.
As a reader or writer, how important are beginnings to you? What do you prefer to see in openings? Is there anything a writer can do to turn you off immediately?