False Starts and Late Beginnings

Many writers start out on a new project, write for a while, and then look back at what they have and realize they started far too early in the story — that whatever point they are currently writing is, in fact, the beginning, while the chapter or so they’ve already completed (or five pages, or sometimes fifty pages) was just them getting into the swing of the characters/world etc. It serves as interesting backstory for their own edification, but doesn’t really work as a way to draw in readers. This phenomenon occurs with even the most savvy, published author; sometimes you just need to write yourself toward where you need to be.

Those of you who started a new project recently might be facing this issue about now, especially if you’re writing diligently every day and accumulating pages at a steady rate. So I thought I’d offer you some expert advice on all that beginning stuff — balancing character and story, planning where you want to go, and so on. Because if you find yourself kicking out some of your early pages, you might want to take a moment to reassess your overall plan for the project.

Fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss runs a series of storyboard panels on YouTube’s Geek & Sundry channel, and he got together with fellow author Mary Robinette Kowal earlier this year to talk about beginnings. I defer to their interesting and entertaining advice: Begin at the Beginning.