I have a confession to make - I was on vacation all last week, I’m packing to send my son off to his first year of college this week, I just looked at the calendar and said ZOMG! I’m scheduled to blog today! TODAY! So forgive me if this is a random rambling but I’m kinda sorta in freak out mode.
So … beginnings and endings.
Very simply, I pick a moment where I can show you a slice of life just before the conflict starts and introduce you to the characters and the setting. Somewhere in the first few pages, I make sure there are a few unanswered questions that are the ‘hook’. Some writers start with big action-y hooks like explosions or dead bodies, but a hook can be something as simple as your character catching someone staring at them from across a room … it’s just a little question or problem that intrigues your reader enough that they’ll keep turning the pages.
I tend towards ending my chapters with either cliff-hangers or unanswered questions, but by the time I reach the end of a book, I want most of the loose ends wrapped up. I say “most” because I think some things can and should be left to the readers imagination, but that’s tricky ground … the bottom line is writing is so subjective, and it’s impossible to please everyone. Some readers don’t want to interpret the little clues I’ve left throughout the story, or they don’t want to put themselves in the main character’s shoes and imagine how they would have continued on from where the story ended. I had a couple of conflicts running through AURACLE, and once I resolved the main conflict, I knew I had a limited amount of pages to deal with the secondary conflicts and get the heck out of there.
I have another confession to make – before I wrote AURACLE, I started another book. I created a 60 page outline, and when I started to flesh it out, I spent six months on page one. SIX MONTHS! I am not kidding. Every day, I sat down at the computer, reread that first page and decided it wasn’t good enough so I just kept rewriting it. I stressed out so much about creating the perfect beginning that I never got off page one. Yes, it was very pathetic. I finally gave up and decided I was not meant to be a writer, and it was years before I tried again. I started AURACLE the summer my mom went through last stage Alzheimer’s and I realized life is too short to stay stuck on page one. All I had was a couple of characters, a situation and a theme, and I powered through a rough draft in a month. It sucked, but I powered through a second, and a third, and fourth draft, learning as I went. I lost track of how many revisions AURACLE went through, so I am once again a believer in outlining (it saves a lot of time if you know your main plot points before you start) but the lesson I learned is Don’t worry about your beginning – it can (and usually will) be changed.
Gina Rosati is the debut author of AURACLE, a YA paranormal romance (Roaring Brook Press, August 2012.) She likes trees, cute fuzzy animals and shiny things, and lives with her family in southern NH.