Monday, December 4, 2017

Getting to the heart of the story

Ana muses about getting the first chapter right.

I've written three drafts of my WIP's opening chapter, one from each main character's POV. Now I have to decide which works best.

The heroine is Mary Masters, eighteen-year-old daughter of a wealthy investment banker in 1889 St. Louis. Pampered and sheltered by devoted parents, Mary has grown up sweet and idealistic. She believes she's independent and free. She's well-educated in the finer things in life: dancing, the proper way to serve tea, when hat and gloves are required. She's a talented pianist and a generous contributor to charity causes.

Her family expects her to marry a Society man, namely Carville Phillips, whose father is a well-connected St. Louis attorney. He expects his son to graduate from law school and join the firm. Trouble is, Car prefers to carouse all night and sleep all day. (He's the villain.)

The hero is Robert Eagle. Stripped by the government from his Lakota family when he was four, he's survived institutionalized abuse in an Indian Industrial School and clawed his way to a summa cum laude law degree. In school, he and Car became friends and struck a bargain: Robert tutors Car in exchange for a position in Car's father's law firm. Then Car introduces him to Mary.

In the dead of last night, I realized I needed to formalize the theme of the story:  love vs security. Does a young woman of privilege settle for a life of soul-killing comfort, or will she dare to risk everything for a forbidden love?

I think now I know whose POV should rule the opening chapter.


  1. Wow. that's quite a scenario. Look forward to seeing how it develops!

  2. Thanks, Paula!
    I always seem to complicate love.

  3. Oh, that sounds like a wonderful book! It's amazing how a little bit of clarity helps us solve our problems. :)

  4. Four months to be able to state the essence of this story in simple terms. It took four years for Stormy Hawkins. In my eyes, that's an improvement.

  5. Generally I need to write a few chapters before a theme emerges and everything falls into place. So I'd say you're well ahead of the game! :)

    1. I'm the same, Deb. The theme emerges once I get to know the characters and they start revealing more about themselves :-)

    2. I think that's precisely why I've written several opening chapters--circling ever closer to the specifics of theme and emotional arc.
      I'm glad I'm not the only one who has to "work at it!"

  6. This sounds really intriguing. Good luck with the rest of it.