When I tell people that I’m an editor and writer, they tend to launch into their book writing aspirations, which I enjoy, but then they tend to end the discussion with the statement, “But I don’t know where to start.”
Yes, Lewis Carroll said, “Begin at the beginning,” but it’s not as simple as that.
Editors and agents want the beginning of a book to capture its audience from the first sentence and to entice the reader to continue to the end.
That’s a daunting task. So, of course, if thinking about this beginning, you’ll never begin. Rather than “begin at the beginning,” begin writing where your idea starts. You can figure out the beginning later.
Diana Gabaldon, a favorite writer of mine, speaks about “kernels.” These are small snapshots of characters, descriptions, images…short sentences that start an idea. From there, she develops these ideas into larger and longer texts. Sometimes, these ideas make it into the book, but sometimes, they hit the editing floor. That’s OK.
I repeat: THAT’S OK. Every thought you have about a book or a character or an idea does not have to end up in the book. It doesn’t meant it’s not valuable. It simply means that it’s not meant for the reader. Hold on to those pieces, though, because they could be useful in developing your character. [More on that later…]