Jennifer talks about how you begin a story...
Beginning a story is not as simple as it sounds. You don’t just sit down and write. Well, maybe you do, depending on whether or not you like to plot ahead of time, but ultimately, some amount of editing is required in order to make sure you are beginning your story in the right place.
Surprisingly, at least to me, is that one of the ways agents and editors can easily spot an inexperienced writer is because they start their story in the wrong place. Just because the story in your head starts at a particular point doesn’t mean the story should actually begin there.
Oftentimes, the place you originally start the story is actually backstory, information that should be sprinkled through the rest of the story that tells the reader what happened prior to their meeting your characters. That part isn’t essential to the progression of the story.
Additionally, you want the beginning of your story to hook the reader enough so that they want to continue reading. While scenery is pretty and sets the stage, it doesn’t convince the reader that she should spend her valuable time reading your book.
I’ll admit to having a difficult time with this, and whenever I go back to my books, I always think I could have done it better. But, here’s the beginning of my book, Miriam’s Surrender. What do you think?
The line from Casablanca flitted through Josh’s head. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world...” He fisted his hands at his side and closed his eyes.
This morning, he’d hurried to work for a meeting with a new client. He’d worked on the presentation for weeks—a structural redesign of an Alumni Club for a local private school. It was different from most of the projects he had worked on before, and it sparked his creativity. They’d been awarded the contract and this morning’s purpose was to meet the client’s daily contact, the person Josh would work with throughout the span of the project.
He’d walked into the red and black conference room of his architectural firm and froze. Sleek, black, flawless coiffed hair.
Ramrod straight posture.
It couldn’t be.
And as she turned and approached him, she’d glided.