Friday, June 8, 2012

Ahh....beginnings!

Because come on, who doesn't love beginnings? They're wonderful.

The first kiss, the first bite of chocolate cake, the first time your kid takes a step or swims underwater and the first flush of love. They're all magical. Is it so surprising then, that beginning a new book is anything less than bliss?

I recently read a blog post about how much emphasis writers put on the beginning of their story.

There's a valid and practical reason for this. People who agent, publish and read books, judge a book by those first pages. Writers know this and we pour our heart and soul into those first pages. We want to get it just right for you.

But in my case the love and care thrown into those first pages isn't all for the reader. There's a little bit of selfishness mixed in.

For me, starting a new book with a fresh idea is like falling in love.

First, there's the idea that wiggles its way up out of, I don't know, my subconscious, the environment, something I saw or read or did or ate. In case the foregoing sentence didn't make it clear, I have trouble pinpointing the source of my ideas.

Then, there are the days or weeks that it's just a hot steamy love affair between me and my idea. Often I guard it closely. It's not something I want to talk about at this point because it's still growing and fleshing out, becoming less of an amorphous fantasy and turning into something real.

After that comes the Shout-It-From-The-Rooftops phase of the romance.

That's the time when friends will start receiving pitches in their inbox which showcase "the most perfect idea ever"!!!! I will gush about the idea, the characters, their motivations, their sadness and joys. I get a little myopic, as all people who are newly in love do.

By the time I've started writing I'm head over heels in love. As my kids would say, I want to marry that idea!

Those first fifty pages are a love letter of sorts. They have to be perfect, eloquent and worthy of the thing that has me unable to think clearly and has taken up (what seems to be) permanent residence in my brain.

So you see. For me it's all about beginnings. They're my selfish, symbiotic pleasure.

20 comments:

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I love your extended metaphor! That was me and my new project all through spring break in April.

Well, it's two months later, and I'm starting to see all the warts, bad breath, and annoying habits of my love interest. Urgh.

The middle is HARD.

Joshua said...

That is a great perspective, but now I can't stop thinking about cake!

Beylit said...

That is a pretty perfect metaphor. I feel pretty much the same way when I start a new project. I love the beginnings, I just can't go anywhere after that initial romance ends.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I wish the beginnings came as easy for me!

Pk Hrezo said...

Oh yeah.. I go thru it too. It's my fave part of a story--starting it out. Usually it's the hardest part to get right too, after the whole thing is done.
Anyway, I'm afraid you and I can't be friends anymore cuz of your harsh critique on Dianne's blog....
lololololol .... so totally kidding. DOn't ever feel bad about leaving constructive feedback. It's why I'm in this game--so I can learn how to make it better. :) Thanks for chiming in!! :D

Sylvia van Bruggen said...

I have found a kindred spirit in you it seems, all through your post I nodded like mad :) I am at the beginning of my camp NaNo novel, and it feels like I am in a constant love affair as I type :D

Kristen Wixted said...

I do that at the beginnings, but I always end up changing the actual beginning a zillion times because I don't know where to start the story.
Right now I'm (strangely for me) writing a thriller and it's a little easier to tell where to begin because there are only so many options with a thriller.

Are the Red Sox and Yankees in last place still? Some season, eh?

Sorry I've been absent--just overwhelmed and your blog fell off my blog list somehow.

Danielle Raver said...

Great post - I love your blog Johanna :)

Johanna Garth said...

Dianne, I hate middles too. I'm all about the fireworks.

Sorry Josh, didn't mean to derail your fitness plan.

Beylit, thanks! It's about staying in it for the longhaul though.

Alex, I wish middles came easy to me.

PK, Thanks and LOL!

Sylvia, I know. I get SO swept away at the beginning.

Kristen, no worries and no idea (yikes bad Yankee fan). And just because I fall in love doesn't mean my beginnings are any good without lots of editing.

Dani, Hi and thanks!!

TL Cooper said...

Wow! I really enjoyed this post, Johanna! It made me think about how I approach my own projects. I don't like to share anything until the first draft is done. I'm even careful how much I share when doing research. I think it's because if I talk too much about a project, I begin to lose my enthusiasm.
Thank you!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

The first pages are usually hard for me to write; I heard somewhere that the first lines are what draw readers in, and that's true for me because I always peek at books that I'm interested in buying. In particular, I peek at the beginning and the ending to see if I like either/both of them.
My first kiss was cringe-worthy, though. I still shudder whenever I think of it and the guy I wish I'd never met.

Carol Kilgore said...

I love the falling in love part :)

Happy Weekend!

Liza said...

Boy you make your first pages sound so fun. Can't say I've experienced that...yet. I'll remain optimistic!

ali cross said...

Those first fifty are the butterflies-in-your-stomach-can't-stop-thinking-about-him days. Those are awesome days. And awesome pages, too. :)

M Pax said...

Those first pages and thoughts are magical. I love when they leap into my mind, or I'm sitting and watching some stupid news report and go AHA! Just what I was looking for.

Gabrielle Meyer said...

Perfectly said!

Chuck said...

That is really a good way to look at it. I am going to try and write something on my Belize vacation and I will keep this in mind. Don't have a solid idea yet but a couple things just swirling in my head.

Jennifer Lane said...

Fantastic post! Sounds like you spend the first pages in the infatuation phase, without noticing your manuscripts flaws (that comes later in the relationship, hee hee.)

naida said...

Great post Johanna. Now I'm craving chocolate cake though :)

Talli Roland said...

I hear you! The beginning has to be the bit where you fall in love. Because it gets really tough around the middle...