3.09.2011

WIP Wednesday: Beginning on the Right Foot

Welcome to the conclusion of our 3 truths and a lie miniseries! Alz here to give you the breakdown. Let's see how you did!

If you guessed #2 as a lie, you are correct. I've never been camping, actually, though Krispy can attest to the fact that I do have a fondness for chasing birds and startling innocent flocks of pigeons and sparrows and crows into flight. I have never chased a single turkey, much less a flock of them, but I am foolhardy enough to possibly do so depending on how much caffeine I've had beforehand.

Now for explanations of my truths:

1. TRUE - Reading 100+ pages an hour: I'm a crazy word monster, but I usually only manage this transcendental state of super reading when it's either a very good book or a very fast-reading one. For instance, I finished Catherine Fisher's Sapphique and Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay each in a four-hour-straight read-through. But depending on my mood, available time, and how engrossing a book is, I'm more likely to take my time reading in chunks here and there. (Incidentally, you can find me on Goodreads if you're interested.)

3. TRUE - Cotton candy and french fries: All right, all you nay-sayers out there, listen up! If you like sweet potato fries, having cotton candy (the regular pink kind that's not flavored and is just spun sugar) and french fries (not seasoned fries) is a bit similar--it's a combo of salty and sweet, and if you've had salty-sweet desserts or snacks before, you know how good they can be. Try sprinkling a bit of sugar on your fries next time and you'll get an idea of what it's like. Go on, try it!

4. TRUE - First short story involved an evil black child-killing zombie-making unicorn: What can I say? I was a twisted child. I think I was maybe 10 when I wrote that story. I'm not sure. I've still got it around somewher to remind me how far I've come and also how I've remained the same.


Moving on, let us talk about beginnings. No matter where you start writing, you're writing a beginning, even if it's the ending. Wow, that sounded existential. I'm so impressed with myself that I totally forgot where I was going with that thought.

Ah, there we go! I wanted to talk about beginnings, whether you begin writing for the day, or begin a story, or begin a chapter, or begin a paragraph. Get it into gear, get into the proper mindset, get into the groove. Once you've caught the rhythm and the story, you're ready to verbally rumble!

In our current co-author effort, Krispy and I are not quite rumbling, but we're getting there. I'd say we're revving the word-engine and warming it up, and had some false starts in the meantime. Krispy's currently on take #1.5 with her section while I'm on #3.0.

Tone was what tripped me up, see. In my first attempt, the tone was very la-dee-dah with the airy prose traipsing along on tippy-toes. Much too peachy-keen, I decided, and wrote a second scene where the character had a craptastic rainy morning complete with leaky roof, no hot water, and hardly any food and all of it moldy. Much too dreary, I decided, and wrote a third scene in which the guy has an okay morning, no hot water but scrounges an edible breakfast.

Et voila! Walking the middle ground between the two extremes produced the desired results: An average sort of morning which becomes all the more remarkable when standing in contrast to extraordinary events.

Do your beginning scenes go through many different incarnations? Do they come out near-perfect on the first try, or do they only necessitate a bit of tweaking? Do you discard them entirely if unsatisfactory, or do you rework and rewrite until eventually they're brand-spanking new?

7 comments:

Tere Kirkland said...

Wow, actually, when you put it like that, Alz, cotton candy and french fries doesn't sound so bad. I DO like sweet potato fries.

Beginnings almost never come out right for me, but I think with the current wip I finally started in the right place. Just lucky, I guess!

Also, I finished Liar Society last night, could barely out it down at the end! So I totally stole your post idea. What can I say? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. ;)

Angela Felsted said...

Writing a good opening is my bane. I can't tell you how many I've had to throw away.

ali said...

LOL, that was a good 3 Truths and a Lie! And I'm glad to hear you can't always sustain your freaky 100+ reading. I would have to seriously consider whether I needed therapy if you really could all the time. :)

And actually, my beginnings usually stay pretty much the same. Beginnings are my strong suit--it's keeping the momentum and voice promised in the beginning throughout the whole novel that's a trick for me.

Melissa said...

Beginnings are spotty. My beginning now was actually chapter two (had a whole chapter of setup). So...really, it hasn't changed...but it used to be the second chapter...and now it's the first!!!

But...I actually like writing middles and endings the most. Establishing everything isn't FUN, what's fun is playing with the characters. You just gave me a blog post idea! THANKS!

Connie said...

My beginnings suck. Both the beginnings of novels, and the beginnings of chapters. But they get me started, and I can fix them later.

Lydia K said...

My beginnings do go through a few different changes, but it's my middles that are the biggest, baddest problem areas for me.

Alz said...

Tere – Sweet fries are good, if the fries are hot and crisp and salty. I usually get McDonald's fries because they're what's closest when I get cotton candy at the annual festival. (And you're making me really want to read Liar Society! I wish somewhere nearby stocked it so I could have immediate gratification. The post format was all Krispy's brilliant idea, by the way.)

Angela – I usually write pretty good openings, but for some reason this time the mojo just wasn't flowing…

Ali – I used to be able to power through five or six books a week when I was really into a series, but then I would usually go into a post-book stupor and, you know, I had to do other things like chores and homework and eating food, so I stopped doing that. Every now and then though I still go on a mini-splurge and read two or three books in two or three days.

Melissa – I like writing middles and endings too! Because that's when the real playtime hits, and then endings gives you the satisfaction of completion. It's just getting to the ending that ends up being the sticking point for me, alas.

Connie – That's definitely a good philosophy—to power past suckage, because as long as you have a foundation you have something to build upon. Whereas if you write nothing, you have nothing.

Lydia – Like I said above, I like writing middles, but I also sometimes run into problems where I have too much stuff going on or end up getting bogged down in minutiae. I end up having too much fun and it's fun that only matters to me and no one else would care about it, so I have to go back and chop and edit and revise.