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My Present Take on the Start of My Novel

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  • albiaicehouse
    I don t know if the reviewers in this contest have any qualifications, but even if they are random people, I did get their thoughts for no cost on my part.
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 24, 2012
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      I don't know if the reviewers in this contest have any qualifications, but even if they are random people, I did get their thoughts for no cost on my part.

      Here is what I think to this point:

      In talking to others and reading, I came to the conclusion that the earliest draft of my novel had too slow a start. I read that the first sentence, first paragraph, and first chapter of a novel must hold the reader and make them want more. I was told the solution was to utilize unresolved tension, action, and dialogue in that order, especially in the first chapter and really throughout the entire book.

      So I moved a scene from the exciting part of my book to the first few chapters as a flash forward. These chapters were high on tension, contained much action, and high emotion dialogue. One of the characters was lost in a white out storm and the other climbers had to find him. Bits about the book premise were explained but not so much as to interfere with the action. After the flash forward, the story went back to the beginning which included a fair bit about the back story of the main character. But the word limit on the excerpt made this later section too brief.

      Unfortunately, my flash forward approach produced some effects that I've decided ruined my excerpt and, actually, ruined the book, except to very patient readers.

      Here's parts of what one reviewer said:

      "It is interesting to read about the struggle they go
      through to climb in horrific conditions. Otherwise, this story does not make a
      lot of sense from the small excerpt given. It rambles off and the personal drama
      that is brought in doesn't tie in to the story at all."

      "What needs the most work in this story is fluidity. It starts out right away
      with them in a tent at the peak, climbing to find a team member that is lost.
      Then the next section involves Joshua, the leader of this group. It is before
      the climb but he is in Alaska and gets a call from his mother, concerning his
      drunken father. He then delves into a lot of thought and dialogue that leaves
      you clueless to what is happening. It is as if the writer is deliberately
      witholding information from the reader. It made understanding it very hard for
      this reader."

      "In going by just the cover information of this book, it sounds as if it would be
      a good read. In the few chapters I read though, it left me a little confused and
      very disappointed."

      And the other reviewer said:

      "Also, the characters should be at least as developed
      as the scenary, unless this is a story more about the sport of mountain climbing
      rather than the story about mountain climbers."

      At first I thought I'm just not skilled enough as a writer. I need to go into those flash forward chapters and add more character development and plot explanations.

      But when I tried to do that, ugh, the action and tension were interrupted.

      So I'm moving the flash forward back to where it was located originally in the story. By then the characters are developed and their behaviors reinforce their characters.

      But how to start?

      Although my original start had the main character making a discovery while on the computer while sitting alone, I have decided to put the start at the first dialogue he has with someone about his discovery. That start will have the dynamic aspect of the conversation instead of the internal thoughts of my main character which I had in the original start.

      What deliberations have other authors had about how to start their novels? Was it easy for you or difficult? Did advice ever get you to do something to the start of a book or story that you later regretted?

      Rod
    • Jay Doggett
      Rod, Take heart! I entered the contest also, and did not make it past the first round. There is either something wrong with the way I crafted my pitch or the
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 3, 2012
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        Rod,
         
            Take heart! I entered the contest also, and did not make it past the first round. There is either something wrong with the way I crafted my pitch or the judges found the subject matter unappealing. More on that in a moment.
         
            I tend to open as Carol suggests, and work like a director on a movie. Something like that anyway. I create the scene and move my actors through it. In chapter 1, before the dialog starts how do you picture the tent and what's going on around it in your mind's eye? Is it an orange dimple anchored on ledge, a snowfield or ? Are the howling winds of a blizzard buffeting the sides of the tent, threatening to uproot it and toss it off into the void below? That's pretty tense, for me anyway. I don't do heights and that grabs me in the pit of the stomach. That whole getting tossed into the void thing...
         
            Like you I wondered whether to move a key action scene from my fourth chapter to the beginning. In my story our protagonist and his friends get sucked down an abandoned well well off the beaten path in a deep dark forest. Some excellent writers suggest one should start their stories in the middle, or at a spot like that, and others notably James Mitchner don't always do that. Remember this is your work of art. I like where you started in the version you submitted.
         
             Ultimately I left my chapter arrangement the way it was and I am still mulling over whether to change it.
         
              About my pitch. I've crafted three versions and I need some help with this.
         
        Jay
         
             
         
         
        -----Original Message-----
        From: ticket2write@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ticket2write@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of albiaicehouse
        Sent: Saturday, March 24, 2012 10:17 PM
        To: ticket2write@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [ticket2write] My Present Take on the Start of My Novel

         

        I don't know if the reviewers in this contest have any qualifications, but even if they are random people, I did get their thoughts for no cost on my part.

        Here is what I think to this point:

        In talking to others and reading, I came to the conclusion that the earliest draft of my novel had too slow a start. I read that the first sentence, first paragraph, and first chapter of a novel must hold the reader and make them want more. I was told the solution was to utilize unresolved tension, action, and dialogue in that order, especially in the first chapter and really throughout the entire book.

        So I moved a scene from the exciting part of my book to the first few chapters as a flash forward. These chapters were high on tension, contained much action, and high emotion dialogue. One of the characters was lost in a white out storm and the other climbers had to find him. Bits about the book premise were explained but not so much as to interfere with the action. After the flash forward, the story went back to the beginning which included a fair bit about the back story of the main character. But the word limit on the excerpt made this later section too brief.

        Unfortunately, my flash forward approach produced some effects that I've decided ruined my excerpt and, actually, ruined the book, except to very patient readers.

        Here's parts of what one reviewer said:

        "It is interesting to read about the struggle they go
        through to climb in horrific conditions. Otherwise, this story does not make a
        lot of sense from the small excerpt given. It rambles off and the personal drama
        that is brought in doesn't tie in to the story at all."

        "What needs the most work in this story is fluidity. It starts out right away
        with them in a tent at the peak, climbing to find a team member that is lost.
        Then the next section involves Joshua, the leader of this group. It is before
        the climb but he is in Alaska and gets a call from his mother, concerning his
        drunken father. He then delves into a lot of thought and dialogue that leaves
        you clueless to what is happening. It is as if the writer is deliberately
        witholding information from the reader. It made understanding it very hard for
        this reader."

        "In going by just the cover information of this book, it sounds as if it would be
        a good read. In the few chapters I read though, it left me a little confused and
        very disappointed."

        And the other reviewer said:

        "Also, the characters should be at least as developed
        as the scenary, unless this is a story more about the sport of mountain climbing
        rather than the story about mountain climbers."

        At first I thought I'm just not skilled enough as a writer. I need to go into those flash forward chapters and add more character development and plot explanations.

        But when I tried to do that, ugh, the action and tension were interrupted.

        So I'm moving the flash forward back to where it was located originally in the story. By then the characters are developed and their behaviors reinforce their characters.

        But how to start?

        Although my original start had the main character making a discovery while on the computer while sitting alone, I have decided to put the start at the first dialogue he has with someone about his discovery. That start will have the dynamic aspect of the conversation instead of the internal thoughts of my main character which I had in the original start.

        What deliberations have other authors had about how to start their novels? Was it easy for you or difficult? Did advice ever get you to do something to the start of a book or story that you later regretted?

        Rod

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