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 ...