Some authors find the first fifty pages of a novel the easiest.
Some veteran writers suggest if you have trouble getting past the first fifty, you need to go back to the drawing board because your plot needs work.
For me, the first fifty pages can be the most challenging. This is especially true when I’m starting a new series or a single title.
Though somewhat challenging in each Metatron’s Army book, the continuity of the storyline – knowing where it needs to go in any particular book – helps me set up the opening chapters.
When? Pacing is the most difficult aspect of a new story. I have a solid idea of what I want to have happen and my mind is tripping over itself in an effort to get it all down.
It isn’t so much being in a hurry as wanting to get introductions out of the way so I can get to the meat of the story. I’m eager to get things rolling along.
To help myself slow down I take a frame by frame approach. This involves stepping back and seeing the character or characters in a single moment, as if capturing them in a photo frame. It allows me to consider important details such as:
Where? Not just where are they in the scene but where is my story taking place? What cultural influences may be present that affect the characters or the props in the scene.
Props such as food, décor, house/hospital/motel/etc age or style.
Who? Not just who is in the scene but who may be present – not physically – but in the mind or spirit or heart of the character(s)? Who might be about to interrupt the scene and how will that change it and/or the characters in it?
What? Not just what is going on but what is the key mechanism at play in the scene?
Is it dialogue? Physical appearance of one or both characters?
What is supposed to happen?
Is there an action that needs to happen? If so, what is the best way to achieve it?
What is the objective of the scene?
To move it along to the next scene or is there a specific achievement that needs to happen, such as having a character transform in thought or feeling or philosophy?
Why? This isn’t generally a question I need to focus on because for me, the answer is ever present. Why is fundamental to the plot so if this is a question that needs exploring, it may be time to step back further and consider the overall plot rather than the scene.
I don’t do this with every scene.
The story would never get written if I did.
What is special about this scene that I needed to?
Is it the where, who, when, or what?
In answering these questions, I am able to settle into the pacing of a brand new story. more easily than if I avoided the exercise.
The fifty pages and those that come after proceed normally.
Further along. I can use this technique at any point in a story. Answering any of the above questions provides insight, reminds me where I’m at and where I’m going. It pulls me out of the story and into the role of observer which is necessary at times in order to effectively write it.
My New Project. Port in a Storm will be available Fall 2017.
Additional books in the Metatron’s Army series will be forthcoming.
Zwischenzug: Book Three in Metatron’s Army will be available Sept 15, 2017.