Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Insecure Writers - First Post

This being my first venture into the world of participative blogging, I thought I'd start with a related subject area, and one I personally have quite an amount of trouble with ... where to begin.

I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that readers of my stories have (in not so many words) told me that I occasionally ramble along before getting to the meat of my prose. I know there is much advice out there about where one should begin a story but this advice is often much easier to read than to actually follow in deed.

In Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, this question is asked and answered as such:

"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

This is fine advice that I often adhere to when beginning a new story, especially with a new character. I like to take a little time and burn a few thousand words finding out just who this character is and what the character is all about. Beginning at the very beginning keeps me focused on how my character got into the predicament they currently find themselves.

Unfortunately, that does not bode well with readers.

I've often heard that a good story begins "In medias res" or in the middle of things. In medias res is term first coined by the Roman poet and philosopher, Horace in his writings involving the Trojan War. He also used the term "ab ovo" meaning "from the egg." a reference given to the cause of the Trojan war after the birth of Helen and Clytemnestra by Leda after she was raped by the god Zeus while he was in the form of a swan. I know, roman mythology is so weird.

Anyway, I've come up with a solution that I believe benefits my need to write about past and circumstance, and my readers desire to enter the story and immediately be cast into the fray.

I just go ahead and write my story from the beginning and then advance forward to the point where I can begin with conflict or action, and make that my new beginning. I then drop these discarded words throughout the story where needed to fill in gaps and explain deeper character without breaking tension or action.

My record so far for amount of story created before actually finding the beginning is 10. Yes, in one story, I actually wrote ten chapters before deciding that this advanced portion would become the new beginning.

So, here's to beginnings, real and adjusted. My hope is that other writers will read this and know they are not alone in providing too much information or backstory and having to reel it in. Please tell me there are others out there like me. Are there any other writers out there that do this? I hope so.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to visit other members here.