Stuck at the beginning

Let there be light. And a killer plot hook.

When I first came up with the notion behind Spacebuckler, it was very much setting first: Sailing ships can fly! In space! The rest flowed from that pretty easily. As I fleshed out the rather complex setting behind such a simple notion, plot hooks and characters presented themselves to me. Not without effort, but they were there for the mining.

My current project — unnamed and undisclosed for the moment — is far more character driven. As such, I’m having a tougher time coming up with the plot elements. I know where I want the character to end up; heck, with this particular character, EVERYONE knows where he ends up. The joy in it is seeing how he gets there. And that means…a starting point.

See, I have the various inflection points well mapped in this fellow’s character arc. I know how he changes during the course of the story. The second and third acts seem very natural when I plot them out in my handy dandy Excel format. But how to set him in motion? I’ve written at least 10,000 words in each of two beginnings, and both of them are, shall we say, not quite up to snuff. There’s useful stuff there, but they don’t have that highly subjective “it.”

In my view, there’s two ways I can go about this. There’s the “In the beginning….” way, in which we start, well, at the beginning. It’s the once-upon-a-time story in which we see the protagonist in his or her natural element, before time and tide conspire to sweep him off. Think about the beginning of The Princess Brideor The Hobbit for that.

Then there’s the in media resstarter, where you parachute the reader into the middle of something big, and disclose as you go. I did that in Spacebuckler to great effect, and you see it in every Star Wars movie. You may not know exactly what’s going down or why, but you know it’s big and dangerous and thrilling.

Did I miss any other potential openers? Anybody got a favorite opening I can look at for inspiration? At this point, I feel it’s become the beaver dam to me getting this project done. Once I break through, I know it’s going to flow well. I just need to break it open.

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Filed under Books, Writing

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