If you’ve visited this page before, you’ve probably learned that I rarely start in the beginning. No ‘Once upon a time’ or ‘It was a dark and stormy night’, although truth be told, I did use the latter once in a humorous attempt at a Sam Spade short story that was accepted for publication.
But I rarely begin there.
What usually happens is I’ll have a glimmer of an idea for a story. The parts of a conflict, maybe a character or two in mind. But the first scene or two that I write could be a little dialogue between characters or some broad strokes of the setting, getting the time of year and location in place. On more than one occasion, I’ll have a hundred pages or more in place before I write the beginning. That gives me a stronger sense of how to hook the reader, to draw them in. In some cases, this will turn out to be the prologue for the story.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can always move paragraphs or pages around. That’s a blessing for me, since I’m notorious for blasting out scenes as they strike me, then going back later and making sense of it all.
Here’s an example with the beginning from “Fleeing Beauty” the third Jamie Richmond novel.
I don’t want to die.
I’m not ready for it. There are too many things I haven’t experienced yet. Places to go, people to meet, adventures waiting to be discovered. I want to gaze at the stars over the Mediterranean Sea while making love with Malone. I want to fly in a sailplane. I want to stand on a beach in Key West and dip my toes in the ocean and the gulf. I want to travel to exotic lands, dine on their cuisine and dance my little ass off to the local music. I want all of that and much more.
But I don’t think any of that is going to happen.
We’re all going to die.
Once this gang gets what they’re after, there is no reason to leave us behind. They’re not going to lock us in a closet and make a run for it. We’ve all seen their faces. We know their names. We can identify them. There is no way they will let us live. Their leader has a violent streak and it’s only a matter of time before he lashes out again.
My mind is flashing through ways out of this. But nothing makes sense, nothing that will allow me to stop them, to guide us out of here safely.
I don’t want to die.
But there is nothing I can do to prevent it.
This week's musical feature is from Queen. Hope you enjoy it.