After my post last week I started working on my “Believe” story. I decided to write only on one manuscript which is terribly hard for me. I picked a Scottish historical that I originally wrote for NaNoWriMo two years ago. It features a bad ass heroine who knows how to fight like a warrior, an alpha male Laird, and a treasure hunt. I have the backstory figured out and my originally piece was 65000 words. It wasn’t until later that I decided to add in the treasure hunt and draw in through the whole story. Therefore it’s been a manuscript I’ve been tinkering with for nearly the full two years.
Last week I sat down and had a very serious talk with myself. “Self” I said, “It’s time to get serious. You need to find a story you really believe in and write it.” Luckily myself agreed with me. Then I posed the question, “What do you need to get started?” The answer was simple start at the beginning, and that is what I did.
That is also where I stopped.
I started editing my original beginning and found that it was almost to much pacing and nearly unbelievable. There is a carriage crash, the murder of a friend, and my heroine also defends herself against two villainous men, but she also runs into the Hero’s men (though she doesn’t know it at the time) and tries to fight them off. The hero enters in the second chapter and captures the heroine when all these people before him couldn’t. See – it’s a bit much for the first 25 pages.
So I started a second version, giving it a slightly different edge but keeping true what I’ve already written. The heroine now appears after everyone has died and is captured by the Hero’s men. So basically I cut out the first half of the first chapter to give it a better jumping off point. Because I changed it however, I had to rewrite chapter two and the whole tone of the story changed. The Hero became a bit wimpy and jerky and I didn’t like him anymore. (I know I’m the writer – change it until you like him). My fatal mistake as reading through the beginning of the first and finding lines and things that I loved and realizing that what I wrote just didn’t have the magic I wanted.
So I dwelled on this for another day and low and behold I came up with a completely different beginning. I started with the heroine approaching the Lairds land, after she’d already made the escape from all the stuff at the beginning. I gave her an injury and a saucy warrior attitude and I really began to like her. When I introduce the Hero he laughs at her and tells her to get out, because he doesn’t believe she is who she says she is…but, she’s injured and they have to fix her wound. So here I am after 8000 words on the third beginning and I again look back at my original and I decide – crap I’m writing an entirely different story and this is not how I want this one to go.
Now I’m back to rewriting the original. (I think).
I have never had this problem before. Normally I sit down and I write and I let the story go where it wants to go. I know the beginning and the end but how they meet is up to the characters and what I decide to throw at them. What is stopping me is all the research and craft development I’ve done in the past few years. I want to have a very powerful hook and engaging, likeable characters, but I don’t want to ruin the integrity of the story. I am being my own worst enemy.
I reach out to our readers – How do you overcome this? How do you know you are in the right place with your book? For readers – have you ever wished for a different beginning to a story. Better yet, what types of beginnings would make you put down the book and walk away.