I think one of the biggest decisions we make as writers is knowing where to begin.
That first page is so damn important. I can’t count the number of readers I’ve watched at festivals open the book to the first page, read it, and decide whether to buy it based solely on that single page.
I started writing my next book yesterday. I’ve been researching all month, looking up the fairytales of various cultures. Last week I put together a rough outline, and knew I was ready to begin.
Where to start? Action is always best, but my character’s stasis point is just the opposite of active. So I needed to go further back, to a moment ‘off page’, one which never again appears in the book. I started typing and four hundred words later I was off and running.
Except I wasn’t.
Robyn read it, and commented on the fact that it gave away an element the character finds out much later. It’s an important bit of knowledge, and I’d put it right at the beginning.
And so, I’ll scrap that beginning and begin again tonight. Same moment but different information, which will lead to questions answered much later. It’s good living with another writer, who can spot this kind of issue before it becomes a real nightmare later. Fortunately I’ve given myself lots of time to get it right.
I’ll begin as often as I need to.