Where to Start Your Story

Last week when I was reading Kristen Nelson’s blog, I got a bit of a shock.  She listed 10 mistakes that she considers the mark of a beginner (see specific post).  Why was this a shock?  Because my all time big problem was there at #7 — starting your story at the wrong place.

Really?  This makes me a beginner?  An amateur?

Before I got my tail in a kink (or at least worked to keep it there), I decided to do a bit of research and reading on the topic.  Often, writers who start their stories in the wrong place, begin with way too much back story.

Not my problem.  I tend not to give my reader quite  enough information to get her bearings.

I pulled out the critique that I just got from Jennifer Mattson.  Yep.  She definitely wants me to rewrite my beginning.  But she didn’t say I started in the wrong place.  What she did say is that given the exact scene I started with, she would think that my character might have a very different problem than he does.

It looks like I’ve started at about the right point in time, but not with the right details.  My character is intelligent but impulsive, not always stopping to think things through.  That’s what I need to show in my opening scene.

I may have started in an okay place, but I definitely have my character facing in the wrong direction.  When you get a comments from an agent or editor, read and reread.  After all, you don’t want to fix what’s not broken and leave what is.

–SueBE

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