One Step Closer

Woman in hat at computer looking at camera
Hard at work on your next great read!

So this morning I’m listening to Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years and of course my mind flashes to the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer and how every time I watch the movies, I like them more. I never read the books, if I’m being totally honest, but they were a favorite of someone in my household. Because I’m nothing if not supportive of this person’s interests, I took the two of us to the theater when each movie came out. I discussed the characters and the plot and whether or not I’d be Team Jacob or Team Edward if I were 16 years old. I bought the dvds.

Somewhere along the line I became captivated by the story. On every viewing, I felt myself falling more in love with the characters, the narrative, the way Bella and Edward become one of those heart-squeezing couples. Romeo and Juliet. Scarlett and Rhett. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

The Twilight films were gorgeous for one thing. The foggy Northwest setting created a whole vibe. Yes, Bella bothered me with her bumbling and stumbling and confused beetling of her eyebrows every two minutes. She seemed so blank. I had a theory that this was on purpose, that she was a clean canvas on which every preteen and teen girl could superimpose her own self.

I think that might be partly true.

But after falling under the spell of this story and it’s conclusion, I realized there might have been another reason for this choice. When Bella is “changed,” she becomes a glorious version of herself, vibrant and strong, the woman she was always meant to be.

This is a classic character arc. We all embark on a search for self. Sometimes the search takes decades. If we are brave. If we are diligent. If we explore. If we contemplate. If we insist, we eventually find we’ve grown into a capable, beautiful, fierce, and captivating beast.

This theme drives my own novels.

Today’s Writing

I’m editing the second book in my Olivia Lively, P.I. mystery series, and it, too, is a beast. The more I play with the first chapter, the less it feels right.

I know this can happen. In the first book, I started out with a prologue whose life began as a flash fiction story. It was all of a piece. It moved. It had action and just a bit of backstory and a beginning, middle, and end.

This book started out as a prequel. I intended to write it as a promotional giveaway. As I wrote, though, I realized this was an entire novel. I expanded the first chapter . . .

Too much. I riffed on the theme of clutter and messing up and growing too much, too fast. The downside of success.

But nothing happened.

I had to cut a lot of words and move the action into that chapter, and now I don’t know if it’s working or not and arghhh! This is part of the writer life. I need to move on from this chapter and go through the rest of the book because I have a deadline with a developmental editor at the end of this month.

And a deadline to get this to my publisher in February!

So, today I WILL finalize that opening for better or worse. Then I’ll wait and see what the editor has to say.

One step closer.

How to Write a Great Opening Chapter

Are you jonesing for some concrete tips on what makes a good opening chapter and how to pull one off? Here is an article from Writer’s Digest written by Elizabeth Sims that might inspire you.