home           about           reviews           author insight           review policy

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Author Insight: Where to start...

When you’re starting a new book how do you know where the story begins?

"I don’t always. Sometimes the first words I write stay the first words forever. Sometimes when I start a story I’ve written a hundred pages before I get to the beginning, and I have to rearrange. The beginning has to be dynamic, addictive, and unputdownable, so I think a writer always has to be open to changing the beginning in revision. I don’t think there’s a formula for finding it." - Amy Kathleen Ryan, author of Glow.

"My first thought in answering this question was, 'Well, obviously it begins at the beginning.' But that might not be helpful, or insightful. Sometimes, as in Everneath, the beginning scene comes to me first, and I write the rest from there, even though half of the important stuff has already happened before the first chapter. But I don't suggest that, because it's very confusing. Instead, I would suggest something I learned from my critique partners and various instructors: An author should always ask herself, on the first page of the book, what makes today different?" - Brodi Ashton, author of Everneath.

"I don’t, always. Usually the rule is 'start where the action is' but finding that can be a challenge. Sometimes I’ll have to go back and rewrite the beginning to match the end, or slice off a prologue that isn’t helpful." - Anna Sheehan, author of A Long, Long Sleep.

"I wish I was more scientific about it but basically I start a story when the opening image pops to mind. Once it does, I just work on figuring out how that opening image amounts to the character taking their first step toward changing themselves or their world." - Jeff Hirsch, author of The Eleventh Plague.

"In my current series, I am starting each book with a Prologue that sets up what is to come. Chapter One is my main characters’ ‘call to action’ and things take off from there. I tend to have images in my head and plan stories out accordingly, but I leave some leeway for serendipity to intervene. It’s said that writers are either ‘architects’ or ‘gardeners’ – one builds a structure and the other plants seeds. I’d say I’m an architect with a green thumb." -Teresa Flavin, author of The Blackhope Enigma.

"One of my editors taught me to start a book as close to the center of the action as possible. That's particularly good advice for me, since I'm very fond of backstory." -Susan Beth Pfeffer, author of Blood Wounds.

"I begin on the day everything changes, at a moment where the main character is doing something that tells us right away what kind of person she is, and what kind of narrator she’s going to be." - Jennifer Castle, author of The Beginning of After.

"I don't. For my latest, Small Town Sinners, I actually had to go back and write a new opening scene after the rest of the book was done, because I realized it didn't start in quite the right place." - Melissa Walker, author of Small Town Sinners.

"Sometimes it isn't until several revisions and critiques and rereading that I figure out exactly where the story begins. I usually think I've got it right off the bat, but often that is just the inciting incident scene. So, I usually have to noodle through the story a bit before I figure out where it really starts." - Julia Karr, author of XVI.

"Usually I the character is in my head and they sort of tell me where to start. But beginnings often change too – especially after you’ve reached the end. Because you don’t know the beginning until you know the end." - Kiki Hamilton, author of The Faerie Ring.

"I've never had much trouble with beginnings. They usually just sort of  'appear' in my head. And they are often one of the spots that changes the least with revisions. Endings are my bane!" - Jaclyn Dolamore, author of Between the Sea and Sky.

Check out previous rounds of Author Insight in the archive. Come back Thursday to find out how the rest of the authors know where their stories begin.

No comments:

Post a Comment