Friday, January 26, 2007

Beginning Battle

Sometimes, I know exactly how a book's going to start -- the exact scene, the exact moment, the exact dialogue and activity. That's wonderful.

Alas, sometimes, I don't. Take the book I'm starting now, for instance. There's particular information I want the reader to learn near the start, but I'm still not precisely sure in what order to divulge that information, or in what order to introduce my characters.

Add to that uncertainty the fact that, with my last editorially suggested revisions, I wound up losing the entire first scene of a book, and the story was none the worse for wear, so perhaps it's no surprise I'm a little anxious about the beginning of this book.

However, since I don't have a lot of time to wallow around in uncertainty and I'm a write/rewrite/revise-type author, I started to write the book anyway. Almost immediately, I decided the first scene I had written was too far back in terms of story time and events. Also, I was worried that if I started with those particular characters in that particular situation, I would be implying that a certain character was going to be the hero. He's not. Don't want that.

I'm also (always) concerned about giving a good first impression of my heroine. This is something I tend to struggle with because, while I know her backstory and so why she might be rather snippy at the start of a book, if readers don't know the backstory, the heroine can come across as a brat. It can be very, very difficult to overcome that first impression.

So I started again, jumping ahead in terms of time and activity, to a more dramatic moment, and in the hero's POV (as I like to do anyway). However, I've still got to get certain information into the story and now I've given myself fewer words in which to do it.

I also think I've wound up with too many small scenes. The information is there, but it's scattered and unfocused. So, too, are the characters.

So what's an author to do? After mulling it over, I've decided to keep writing and not go back and revise until I've got my hero and heroine where they need to be (geographically) for the rest of the book. I have to take a break from writing next week, so if I can get to that point by Monday, that would be a good place to pause and re-evaluate. I know things will definitely need to be tightened, and some scenes will likely be combined. Some things will get cut. But the book will be on a firmer foundation when I'm done and I'll (hopefully) be more confident moving ahead.

Sigh. Forty-two novels and novellas, nearly twenty years being a writer, and there are still times when I feel like I don't know what the heck I'm doing....


Anonymous said...

Is there, then, any hope for the rest of us?

Margaret Moore said...

Sure! Everybody marches to their own drummer, and some days, things go well. :-)

As they say in Galaxy Quest, never give up, never surrender!