I’ve been working on a proposal for a new series, with the hopes that if it sells it could possibly be something that could be released alongside the Demonic Lords series. (Don’t challenge my delusions! I’m all about the unrealistic expectations!)
For a relative newbie like me (i.e. with no sales record), a proposal generally consists of an outline, and sample chapters (first three.) I had a really cool concept, I knew who my characters were, and so I took about a week and managed to put together a fairly comprehensive chapter by chapter outline. Once that was done all I had to do was write the first three chapters and I’d be good to go.
No big deal, right? I settled down to write and churned out a solid 2500 words or so, which took me to the end of chapter one.
Then I read it. And I realized that even though it was a good scene, it didn’t work as the first chapter of a book. There wasn’t a whole lot of narrative tension, there wasn’t much to hook the reader, and I hadn’t established much in the way of personal stakes for the main character.
Okay, so I set that chapter aside, and tried again. I perused my outline and tried to figure out how else I could get things rolling. Came up with another idea that I thought would work, and tried again.
1500 words later, I realized that this one wasn’t going to work either. It was possibly something I could use later, or at least could refer to in backstory, but it didn’t start the book. Again, no solid hook, not much tension, etc…
By this time I was ready to pound my head against the wall. How was it that I could know exactly what my book was about, know what was going to happen, know all of the twists and turns and red herrings, and not know where exactly I needed to dive into it?
While I was cursing and frothing with frustration, I came up with a perfect (and utterly absurd) analogy for the situation: My story was an egg, and my pathetic attempts to find the perfect entry point were like the sperms’ attempts to penetrate that outer layer and get the process of cell division started. (Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen me come to this realization. [g]) The more I thought about this, the more I realized how well this fit. I knew that if I could just find THE spot, the right scene to open with, everything else would start flowing. The cells.. er, scenes would start dividing and my baby would start growing.
Eventually, after much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair and chewing of nails, I found the right place to start it. My little prose sperm burrowed in and fertilized my story egg, and I was able to write a first chapter that I was happy with. It had a hook! It had tension! There was a great deal at stake for the main character! And most important, it was the kind of chapter that would (hopefully) make the reader turn the page to read chapter two! I had a little story embryo!
And now (much to everyone’s relief, I’m sure,) I’m going to resist the temptation to make more writing/fertility analogies. (I’ll leave that to y’all! 🙂 )