Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jumping In

Sometimes I've worried that I have trouble getting into the meat of my story quick enough. I fear that what I deem necessary information is really some form of intellectual stalling before I hand the reader the true business of the tale.

I recently started WIP2, which has been in outline for a while. I wrote the beginning as I'd imagined it and realized something. I'd just slammed right into the story. The first page begins with the last two minutes of what has apparently been one fight too many for my MC. Less than five pages in, she decides to run away, which is when the fun gets to start.

I'm not so sure how I feel about this. Did I jump in too quickly? Am I throwing something at the reader and expecting them to understand too much from the beginning? Or is it better to just get right down to business? I am uncertain.

For the moment, I'm charging in head first, and I think I'm going to see how that works out. Who knows, it might get interesting.

How much does an author need to do before jumping into the meat of the story? Is there some magic formula to determine how much back story should go in up front and how much can be left for reveals later?

For other thoughts on this topic, try here. :-)


  1. why not go for it and then see how it all fits together at the end?? That's what revision is all about anyway, right? I like the gumption here :D

  2. Without knowing anything about your story, I'd say it depends on what you want to portray as the author and who you are writing for (ex. if it is a YA novel, slow beginnings might not be the best solution). And as always, having another pair of eyes willing to read the story cover to cover will help determine what the right balance is for the beginning of your story :).

    Some books naturally begin slowly with world and character development as the focus for the first few chapters. I think of Tolkien and Ayn Rand right off-hand.

    There are others though that begin right into the action. In my experience, a lot of YA fantasy novels are that way. Just because an action isn't explained in the beginning doesn't mean it will necessarily confuse the reader, sometimes it aids in helping to keep their curiosity piqued.

    In the end, it is really up to you. I know from personal experience, I tend to start my stories off slowly. I really enjoy going into a little bit of depth when it comes to my worlds and characters. I've struggled too with whether or not there can be too much description. I'm sure there are many others out there who would agree that it is a constant battle for balance.

    Good luck!

  3. I agree with Tess. Just write it. This is what I did with my first book. Now I have all that back story written and I can take it out and add it where I need. Or just leave it out altogether. Sometimes its best just to KNOW the backstory so everything else can fit together. You reader doesn't need to know it all, but you do!