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The Scariest Moment—Stephen King [Motivation Monday]

10

April 8, 2013 by Nichole Eck

I’m experiencing this terrifying moment with a novel concept I’ve been developing for about a month.

I’ve written character backstories, brainstormed a basic plot, and found books to read through to research the historical setting.

But I have no idea where to start!

How can I possibly decide where a literary life should begin? I have my character’s entire existence stretched before me (several existences, in fact, because his character arc could still go several ways).

So how, in all the infinite possible realities, am I supposed to find a perfect moment that will

  1. interest the reader,
  2. show key characteristics of the main character,
  3. reveal at least one conflict in the novel, and
  4. do everything else a good beginning is supposed to do.

 

It feels like an impossibly tall order. 

So here is what I will repeat to myself until I have written the first chapter:

  1. The scene I begin with will (sadly, joyously, and inevitably) not actually be the starting scene my novel will end up with. 

How do you get over the fear of starting?

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10 thoughts on “The Scariest Moment—Stephen King [Motivation Monday]

  1. Eric Alagan says:

    I usually start writing – when the first draft is done, I pick the chapter with the most bang and place it right at the top – and rearrange from there…it works for me. After a few shuffles, it falls in place

  2. “The scene I begin with will (sadly, joyously, and inevitably) not actually be the starting scene my novel will end up with.” <-This!

    Don't worry about the perfect moment. You'll find that in Draft #2!

    Paul

  3. Val Mills says:

    I can relate to that, your character will dictate in the end. I like the Stephen King quote, I’m going to add it to my page.

  4. Rachael says:

    I’ve written four opening scenes for my current novel, and I doubt that any of them will make the final cut as the opening scene. Three of them will not make the final cut at all. The fourth (and yes, in that order), will likely fall in the section after the opening scene.

    I’ve had a fair amount of success choosing days to simply throw story arc out the window and just write. A tableau, a short scene, dialogue. I find it helps to refocus me if I take the time to describe one character from the other’s point of view, a setting from the point of view of a visitor, to have a character describe a memory instead of showing that memory. These descriptions rarely make it into the final draft, but I tend to learn things I didn’t know about these lives I’ve shamelessly created.

    • Nichole Eck says:

      Wow—four scenes! I bet whatever you do end up with as the opening scene will be fabulous!

      And your strategy of focusing on the characters rather than the “story” sounds like a great exercise to get over the initial hurdle of starting. I think I’ll try that tonight with my protagonist. Thanks for the advice!

  5. L. Marie says:

    I’ve rewritten my opener several times. But I’m one of those weird writers who have to write the whole book before I know whether or not an opener is working.

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