How to begin your book? Three ways to get started on your novel

How to begin your book?

It’s a question to which every author seeks an answer every time he or she begins a new work. I believe very firmly that every book needs a different approach. But how to approach the beginning so that your novel can get going with ease and it’s not just that you write better but your readers also enjoy reading it.


There is no foolproof way, but the following tips will help you get your story into gear. Basically you can start your story in three different ways. It depends on you and your style of writing which way you pick to write the beginning of your novel. So do you,

Plan beforehand:

In your mind, you have already charted the beginning, middle and the end of the book. You have a clear idea what you want to convey to the readers and hence you start with where you want the story to take off. This usually involves a peek into the character and a look at the character’s life or what is called as story world. Then you work up to the inciting incident.

You can begin straightaway with action but that’s more difficult to carry off because the reader needs to have a clear idea where or how the action started.

If you are a plotter this would be your favored method to write. Or you could,

Write as you go:

You have no idea what your story consists of. You don’t know the end. You have a brilliant story idea and you can’t wait to put down the words.

In this case, you had better put down everything that comes to your mind. This type of free flow writing or pantsing will require rewrites and probably re-rewrites before you get your story done. So, in any case you will be rewriting your beginning. Yes, you can absolutely do that after you finish the book. In fact, many authors prefer to write the beginning afterwards. It can be crystal clear where it is just a muddy pool of ideas when you began the story.

If you want to write free flow, to avoid wasting time, it’s better to know three things:

The heart of your story – what is your story about. Why should anyone give a damn about what you are writing.

Your character’s journey – What is the endpoint your character is striving for? It can be a physical, emotional or spiritual goal, but it is sensible to at least have some idea of it.

Your story genre – How you are going to tie up the ends may depend on what genre you are writing. In romance, for example, it’s customary to have a happy-ever-after. In horror, things almost always end up worse. In inspirational stories, the protagonist learns a lesson, though he or she may not get what they wanted at the beginning of the story.

Or you can be the one who follows,

Middle path:

If you have a rough idea of how story is going to progress, you can probably choose right away how to begin the story with maximum impact. I prefer to strongly visualize the beginning – often the beginning is so strong for me that the rest of the story has to be stirred to gel with it. I might even change the character’s profession or the location of the story to fit in with the beginning. It might be different or the same for you. But if you fix the beginning right away, you won’t have to come back and face the change again.

Be careful that your beginning straightaway fixes the reader in the location and time of your story e.g. is it medieval India or Planet X-8i4 in 2095 or present day NYC? The reader should be grounded in the setting. At the same time, exposition about what your character has been through in their life or what they did all afternoon is to be avoided. As soon as you can, bring the focus on the moment of action i.e. what is happening that is of importance? What is propelling your story to take off in the direction you have envisioned?

It’s hard to list all the finer points needed to make the beginning shine, but hope this gives you a better idea of how you want to go about writing down the first few hundred words of your novel. Do leave a comment how you liked this post and anything else you want to share or ask about book beginnings.

 

Guest post at Romance University blog – Get Physical With Your Work-in-Progress (and Not Mental)

Write in present. Don’t look too far ahead in your book. Here’s an excerpt from my guest post at Romance University where I explore this subject.
………..
The story that you write is usually something that means a lot to you. You put in your time and invest emotions in it to create it. It is your passion. For people who work on one project, it’s the main subject dominating their thoughts during that time. They might even eat, drink and sleep their work in progress, so to speak. Are you like that with your work? Yes? Then read on to find out what you’re doing wrong.

While we are engaged mentally and emotionally with our wip, we sometimes tend to get too close to it. We miss the development and evolvement of the story. You might argue that the development is in your hands as a writer. True, but in every story, the growth also depends on the characters. A major part of what makes the plot move forward is how your character reacts to obstacles. We can’t go on and impose just any storyline on the characters. When we do, it starts to feel wrong. Our hands falter at the keyboard. Writing becomes wooden. We might even develop a fear of writing. This can lead to a block which progresses to an extent when we can’t even think of working on the project.

Why did this happen? Let’s see.

When you begin a project, you are excited and poised at the brink of new discovery. At that time, you couldn’t stop thinking of it. The first chapter is written and it feels like a miraculous accomplishment. You go on to plan what would happen in the second one as you close the laptop and push back the chair. As you wander out of the room and reminded by the grumbling of your stomach, you set to conjure lunch, you’re still mulling on it. In plotting the third chapter, you hit a road block when you don’t know, for instance, how H/h will meet again. But as you peel potatoes, you hit upon an idea. Why not have them stumble in the restaurant? You slice veggies and nod slowly. Yes, they both love pastry and so go to buy it at the same shop. By now, you have their conversation in your head. You’re smiling, picturing the dialogue printed in the book. A few interruptions later, you get another moment free, say, doing the ironing. Hands engaged, mind free i.e. HEMF and you get to it again. You are halfway through the story now, trying to think up the details of the black moment.

By nightfall, you have the hea or the resolution – as the case may be – wholly charted out.
Next morning you open the ms…and you can’t write a darn word.

Why… how…what? You’re not able to pin down the reason but suddenly the story that had you on your toes, seems as delicious as the lunch that you partially burnt up while thinking of it.

The thing is you lost the spirit and soul of discovery.

That’s why you should get physical with your wip.

Mental wrestling is ok when you have a difficult scene which needs minute details to be logical. But never for plotting the story.

The surprise is gone. You need the feeling of the fresh and new to keep writing.

That isn’t the only problem with thinking ahead. When you run forward mentally, you are charting out the progress of the story, keeping in mind those characters with whom you began the story. But as you write, the characters must undergo a change. 
Read more at:
http://romanceuniversity.org/2015/08/10/get-physical-with-your-work-in-progress-and-not-mental-by-summerita-rhayne