Write a Novel: My Opening Scene

I’m trying to coerce myself into doing a bit of writing this week.  Just a little.  After all, the rewrite was turned in early in the week and I’m always happier when I’m writing.

Way back when I had jury duty, I read a bit of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody.  I read about Beat #1: The Opening Image.

In this single scene or chapter, you set up your character’s problem.  In my case, what inner problem is Clara struggling with throughout the novel?  In the first book of Send in the Sopranos (because I’m a glutton for punishment and I’m imagining doing this again and again), Clara is struggling to rediscover who she is.  An empty nester who lived for her kids, she may actually have been a bit of a helicopter parent.  Without her kids there to obsess about, she’s at a loss.

This realization about my character brought another realization.  My current opening scene did not set this up.  It brought her back to town where the mystery takes place, but that’s the outter problem.  Or, as I originally mistyped it, the otter problem.  Clara’s inner problem is one of identity.  I may not entirely get rid of the opening scene I wrote, after all, she is going to have to return to town.  But while this scene might make a great transition it was not a great introduction.

This meant that I needed both a new scene but also a new setting.  Recently I read a novel set in a modern minimalist house.  While, in the abstract, I understand the appeal of this type of architecture and decor, I don’t feel it.  All those straight lines and stark white would suck the life out of me.

Hey, wait a minute.  I still need a setting for my new opening scene.  A stark, heartless, soul numbing setting.  Yep.  Modern minimalism at its worst.  Icy-chilling-bwa-ha-ha.  Once I had the setting in place, the scene itself started to come together.  I’m going to get this scene drafted and then I’m going to start making plans for the Beat #2: Theme Stated.

–SueBE

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