What’s in a beginning?

Gosh, when I look at the date of the last time I blogged, I can’t believe it’s been that long. But that’s what happens when one tries to cram 6 months worth of events into 6 weeks. Some things fall by the wayside, and frankly a few have. Time to pick things back up. But of all of the things I’ve done in this time period, it’s hard to know what to talk about first.

That thought (about what comes first) reminded me of a helpful workshop we did at the annual Leicester Writers’ Club retreat in the Cotswolds. Every year we take a long weekend and hold up at an old Manor House full of character in the middle of nowhere. The scenery is beautiful, I heard my first cuckoo and saw my first swifts of the spring. I got some writing done every morning, had a couple drinks every evening, and in between workshopped and napped. It was great!

In the workshop I spoke of, we literally looked at our beginnings. We all took turns reading out the first paragraph of whatever novel we were working on, then we all critiqued it. It’s amazing how, looking at someone else’s work, one easily sees that just by rearranging a sentence here or a few words there, suddenly their beginning has that grabbing power that we’re all looking for.

It’s also incredibly frustrating how hard it is sometimes to see it in your own work. I had re-written the beginning sentence of my second novel in The Knight of Kenilworth series several times. I have been satisfied with the rest of the paragraph for some time. But I knew that the first sentence wasn’t right. I knew I wasn’t satisfied with it. I just couldn’t put my finger on where it went wrong. The great thing is, I learned an invaluable lesson from this exercise which is not to slow down the action/story with details that I can drop in later regarding time/place etc. More on other workshops later….