Saturday, January 17, 2009

Which beginning?

If you've followed the Hal Spacejock series you'll know that each book opens with Hal in the flight deck sipping a coffee. This gives me a chance to introduce the regular characters over the first page or two, which helps bring new readers who may not have seen the earlier books up to speed.

It's also a nice bit of calm before all hell breaks loose.

With book five I have a killer opening (A) which sends up the usual one, but if I use it I'll need to come up with a link (B) to the current dramatic opening (C), which involves driving rain, fog, and a soggy sofa.

If I do this, B will need to be as short as possible.

Unfortunately, C starts in the middle of a lengthy job, on a planet, while A is best suited to an in-flight situation. B could turn out to be a bunch of arriving and job description scenes, which I really want to avoid. Otherwise A could be on the planet, but then Hal should be doing something else, not sitting in the flight deck.

Hmm.

The other problem with the sendup opening is that it's heavy on the double-entendres, and I don't want to give Parents/TLs/booksellers the wrong impression if they skim page 1.

What to do, what to do? I suspect I have to write a really good pair of Bs before I can decide.

EDIT: Four sentences. That's all I needed for B, and it's turned out just fine. Isn't it funny how a scene you've written seems to be set in stone, when in fact it's only cast from jelly?

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

3 comments:

cgoo said...

something like this happened to me recently. I was terribly upset about the corner I'd backed myself into and wasn't sure I was going to be able to go anywhere from there. Later, I came back to it with that "I can do anything I want, DUH," sort of angle, added two or three sentences at the beginning of the scene, and all was fine. It's amazing what a little fresh air and some stubborn confidence will do for you.

cheers!

Mary Paddock said...

I'll have to bow to your expertise on this one, Simon. I don't doubt for a second that whatever you decide will be exactly right for your heroes.

However I've re-written "set in stone" beginnings more times than I can count. That first page is so all important that the pressure is really on to hook the reader quickly. Do I make them love the character first? Or get them excited about the character's action-packed lives first? Or do I want to creep them out enough for them to want to turn the page?

Simon Haynes said...

I'll probably rewrite the beginning to match whatever ending I finally settle on, so I don't stress about it too much.

I'm onto the second chapter now, weaving my little threads and giving everyone humongous problems.