Part 2 - Starting Out
Beginnings are perhaps the trickiest for me. Aside from finding the time to actually write, I feel the starting itself needs to grab the reader's attention, as well as set up the scene and characters, without doing a bunch of boring exposition. If you don't have someone's attention pretty fast, particularly in this day and age, they will move on.
My trouble with starting out may be why I spent a while with fanfiction (and why I suspect it's a good lead in for beginners) - the framework for an episode of "Sliders" or "Iron Chef" is already there, so no need to think as hard about what you'll be doing at the beginning.
If you're going original though, there is the trick of In Medias Res to grab attention, basically a 'here's a bunch of action, now let's rewind time to set it up' motif. I used it in my award winning Read or Die fanfiction, "Time and Tide". A bunch of television episodes also use it.
I actually dislike that cliche.
Despite that, since the "Virga" series was all about James writing (in first person) after the fact, I felt like I could get away with a variation on it for the WriMo. By referencing a few bits of where we were headed, I hoped it would tease, but that some of the key bits would only register subconsciously. The reader would then be reminded later, perhaps becoming impressed by my foreshadowing. (I don't foreshadow as much as you think though. More on that next time.)
However, starting with James thinking about Melissa might be why the whole thing veered more towards romance than fantasy. Which isn't bad, but was a bit unexpected. (My attempt at deception there is also why Part 1 spiraled a bit out of control, but more on that later too.) I wonder if I should pay more attention to how I start in the future. In my prior WriMo attempt, I started with Simon in his profession, since he was a magician, and magic was meant to be the main theme.
Anyone else have a better way to begin?
Once I'm through the first couple pages, I usually have an incident I'm working towards. Things build up to that incident, then I look past it to the next one, and so on. This is within the larger plot point that I laid out earlier. What I mean by that is, for Virga, the plot point was "Popular Actress in Trouble" (an idea I'd once had for a case that never materialized) while the incidents were "introduce actress", "encounter with Melissa", "introduce magic", "introduce trouble", "confirm trouble", and so on.
I write this way most of the time, particularly evident during "Time Trippers", where I had a fixed length for each episode. I find it helps me cut out a lot of the 'fluff', where people are talking, but what they've said really had no impact on their characters, the plot, or the setting. In other words, I'm preemptively removing pointless scenes. Which is my first difficulty in a WriMo - since aren't you supposed to be writing everything (or "just writing!"), even if it does turn out be fluff? The fluff is what you edit out later!
No. If I write it, it needs to have a purpose in the grand design.
Now, I know that others find those sorts of rambling "write anything" moments helpful for giving insight into their characters, or sparking ideas, creating new complicating incidents, et cetera, but honestly? That's what my framework was for. Once I'm actually writing, I have a good sense of everyone's personalities and the plot points that are going to occur. I don't want to probe any deeper without due cause. At best it seems wasteful, at worst, it throws my story off and I'm lost.
But more than that, I don't NEED to "just write anything". At this point the writing is flowing from incident to incident, and I'm interweaving characters and/or backstory as it becomes necessary. I'm on a roll.
Until inevitably, I get stuck. Which I fancy isn't the same way a lot of other people get stuck.
Next: Being Stuck