Where does a book start?

The hook. That’s what I got told in every class I ever took. The book has to snag the reader in the first paragraph. You have to hook them, entice them, into the story.

That’s easy to say but difficult to perform. There is so much more involved than just hooking a reader. The story has to be crafted. It has to make sense. In a way the story has to be circular. Where it starts, you want it to end.

When I wrote The Beginning the first time, I started the story with the wrong character. At that time I was still thinking of it as 4 equal protagonists. I didn’t understand why I had to show the story through one character’s eyes.

As my skill level developed I began to look at my writing from a different perspective. I am a right-brain writer. The stories come from the same place my art does.  But to be the kind of writer I dreamed of becoming, I needed to engage the left side of my brain. The analytical, logical side.

It wasn’t enough to put words on the paper. I had to know why the words were there, and more importantly, were they effective?

In the original story I did a lot of head hopping. I thought I was writing from an omnipotent viewpoint. What I did was annoy the writing teacher I had at the time. She kept nailing me for pov errors. I didn’t see the problem.

I kept writing, kept studying, and suddenly had an ‘aha’ moment. I ‘got’ it. I figured out why she was so annoyed with me. How did I get to that point? I looked at my work as a reader instead of the writer.

I have read several best-selling authors whose books I no longer buy. Why? Because of the frequent pov changes. They annoy me. When I read, I want to sink into the protagonist’s head and follow him/her through the story. Every time a pov change occurs, it jerks me out of the character and I have to re-align myself. It annoys me to have to do that.

But The Beginning is a story that has 4 main characters. I need the reader to see the motivation of them all. Each of them has an inciting incident that triggers the paranormal gifts they end up with. I need the reader to see that in a clear manner.

So, how do I do it? I obviously didn’t get the job done the first time around. If I had, the book would be published and right now its a mess.

I know where the story ends up which gives me the starting place. If it ends at Sami’s home, it has to start with Sami. I went from the original story starting with Jean’s (who in the rewrite is now named Annabelle) character, to giving the story to Sami.

But I still need each inciting incident clearly seen and understood by the reader. So my solution is to give the first four chapters to each character. The inciting incidents happen roughly at the same time but in different places.

I want the reader to get the feeling of seeing 4 lives going through a major life-changing incident at the same time. I don’t know if I’ll succeed. But that is what I’m attempting to do.

Each one of the characters would be a hook in its own right but three of them have to step back and let one of them take front and center. In tearing this book down, and putting it back together, I’m learning a lot because it’s left brain writing at this point. The creating of the story is already done.

The rewrite of The Beginning is offered at Wattpad under my author name C.L. Roth

 

2 Responses to Where does a book start?

  1. Ann Tucker says:

    I saw you comment about this on ALLi and came over to check it out. Sounds like a good exercise. I’m thinking of using wattpad for visibility too. I just need to figure out with what.
    Can you give a link to the project? I can’t find it searching wattpad for your pen name.

    • C. L. Roth says:

      Ann, thank you. That’s good for me to know. I’ll be sure and post links with my comments from now on. It never occurred to me that a simple name search wouldn’t find me on wattpad. I’ll have to figure out a way around that.

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