The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Last night, between hacking my lungs out and listening to my neighbors’ cheesy-awesome 1980’s tunes, I started writing Per Ardua ad Astra (bit of a mouthful, by no means is this the final title).

Beginning a story is difficult for me. I have no problem writing internal scenes, even endings, but the whole first-impression thing…I feel that if I can’t strike the right tone with the opening line, the rest of the book will suffer. Look at some of famous opening lines:

“Marley was dead to begin with.” A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.” The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.

“Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood.” Inferno by Dante Alighieri.

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.” Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling.

These opening lines capture the essence of the stories to follow. As for me, my opening line is pseudo-epic and quite frankly, reeks. It doesn’t fit with the vibe that I hope to achieve. Oh well. That’s what rewrites are for!

And I’m not going to rewrite a scene until I’m completely done. Unless I come up with a better beginning.

6 thoughts on “Beginnings

  1. I’m not sure why you’ve made it a rule not to rewrite a scene until you finish writing your novel? I’ve never heard that before except from folks who do that write a novel in a month bunch. Any particular reason you feel this way?

    And yes, good opening hooks are not easy to come up with.


    1. I tend to get hung up over the tiniest details and never make any progress because I’m a perfectionist. My previous attempts at writing a novel stalled because I constantly wrote the beginning and “how they meet” scenes. So for this one I’m trying something different.

      I have a feeling I’ll end up coming up with a better beginning; I’ll break my rule and end up writing that one instead. But for the time being, it works. I want to get the ideas out first.

      I’ll find a rhythm that works for me. My first draft (of a different novel) was completed last November during NaNoWriMo. While the go-go-go attitude certainly got the draft written, it isn’t terribly good. It’s actually quite awful.

      As the story progresses, I’ll figure it out. 🙂


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