Friday, January 22, 2010

False Starts

I have now started "Beneath the Ionian Sun" four times. Four different beginnings and I'm now so far behind my self-imposed schedule that I feel like crying.

Why, you might wonder, is this so hard when I already had such a good grasp on my characters?

I started Attempt #1 on a high and the words just flowed. I worked on that opening for three days. The story starts on Corfu, with a summer romance between hero and heroine. A brief encounter that both know will not last. Then the doubt set in. How could I hope to hook a reader (or an editor) with a story that opens with sunshine and roses? I needed more conflict!

So I rewrote the beginning, starting at the moment of most dramatic conflict. Attempt #2 opens when the hero and heroine are thrown together months later and he discovers that she's pregnant ... and that she planned to keep it from him. Enter the next set of doubts. I've seen this opening done countless times. Where's the fresh twist I need to hook a reader?

Then I had lunch with my local writing group and as one of my friends told us the story of her Christmas holiday nightmare I thought "what a great story that would make". So began Attempt #3. But the words just wouldn't come. Writing this opening was like sweating blood.

I brainstormed with my crit partner and dearest friend Mandy and worked out a story that really excited me. Summer romance gone. Secret pregnancy gone. This morning I started Attempt #4, hoping a fresh start and a clean Word document would help the words start to flow. No luck. Still sweating blood.

So what's a girl to do? Go with her head or with her heart? My heart is still back there with Attempt #1. Mandy is liable to kill me, but I'm going back to that story. I'll layer in some conflict between the sunshine and roses, and tell the story of my heart. [Sorry, Mandy!]

Now I've got two weeks of catching up to do to get back on track ...


  1. Hi Romy!
    I know exactly how you feel, I started my current WIP three times, at three different points in the story. Forget about conflict and just think about SIZZLE! If the opening sizzles and you finish it with a great hook to make the reader want to know more, you've done the job!

  2. Only my view but I;d figure just write that dirty draft the way it's flowing. Worry about nuts and bolts later. It's all in the rewrite or so I've been told a zillion times.
    You can do EEET.

  3. Hi Romy. I'd go with the comments above. Go with the one that really gets you going, if its wrong you can change it at the end, but I reckon sun, sea and love is a great start to a story...

  4. Definitely just go with it. You can always layer in afterwards.

    Good luck!

  5. Yep, I'm agreed. Go with what's working. Also, if it all seems sunshine and roses they have further to fall :-)

    Think of onions (or Shrek) it's all about the layers!

  6. Romy, as weird as it sounds, your post made me feel better! After writing over 5k on my new wip, I'm suddenly hating the beginning (that I changed from one I loved because of hook issues).

    Last night I spent three hours and only got out 500 words because I guess deep down I knew it wasn't working. Knowing it's okay to go back is making me feel much better, so thanks. Wishing you fleet fingers this time around.

  7. I know that feeling - blood out of a stone. It's horrible.
    Just make sure that along with the sunshine and roses that there is a hint of the conflict to come, a bit of tension. You want people to think 'nah, these two will never make it'.

  8. JK Rowling wrote the first chapter of the Philosopher's stone 21 times. Remembering that always makes me feel better :D There's a whole book in that first chapter, so you've got another 18 rewrites to go before we cut you off ;).

  9. Romy, you have to go with your instincts. Wite the beginning you feel will be true to the story. Even if they're in the midst of a temporary affair, there can still be thorns along with the roses, right?

  10. Love Lacey's comment about JK Rowling - didn't know that and it makes me feel so much better about the 14 drafts of my book (that still isn't working).

    I'm with everyone who's advised you to go with your instincts on this one.


  11. Yup I agree with you completely! Go with what your instincts are telling you while you write - seeing as it's the only story that wants to be written anyway! LOL!

    Then fix it when you edit. It shouldn't need too much editing anymore seeing as you're now uber conscious of the fact that you need conflict and will be layering it in from the beginning ... won't you?

    Remember you can't edit a blank page so go for it! Catch up on that word count! You know you can do it.