Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beginings

by C. Michelle Jefferies

I'm taking all sorts of risks right now.

Today is the first day of the school year. My kids dressed in new clothes and haircuts are now at school and ready to be molded and learn all sorts of new stuff.

Today is also a new begining for me. I only have one child at home and should be exctatic at the prospect of having so much time to write and work on my books.

Wrong.

This baby is not one of those entertain themselves all day long kids like my others. This one needs constant supervision. Remember me saying I'm taking a risk? Yeah, he's unloading the hall closet as I write this. It's going to be an interesting year.

Speaking of beginings. I  have a few friends who stress over thier first pages worrying whether they are good or not. They worry about the level of action the plot promises that should be delivered in it. They worry about pacing, and introdoucing the characters without info dumping. While some of my other friends breeze through the first pages only to worry about something else. My main worry is just that I've gotten some element of grammar wrong and I don't see it.  I rarely worry about first pages. I have too many other things to stress over.


I've written many first chapters and entered many first chapter contests. From my many years I have come to a few conclusions.

You must introdouce your main character. No "first chapter about anybody but the MC".
 
If the MC has a signifigant other, they must be thought about or mentioned. If this is a multiple POV book the other characters should be given at least a mention.

You need to give the reader a sense of the setting and whether its normal or if it is unusual for them.

Tell the reader what is the MC's normal life so when we take them out of normal the reader notices the change.

You should give the reader a hint about what the main conflict of the book is. By all means, don't tell them the climax or the resolution, but give them an idea of what is coming. It makes for a more satisfying story in my opinion.

The first chapter must be consistent in style and voice to the rest of the book. The pacing should indicate the pacing of the rest of the book. No switching narrative, person, voice or style.

Arrive late into the scene and leave early.

So what do you worry about? What do you believe is required in first chapters? I'd love to hear your ideas.

~The path to wisdom is not allways straight.