Beware the false beginning. It’s easy to start in the wrong place. A lot of times we authors even need to start in the wrong place. We need to get out some ideas or ground ourselves in the story or think to the tap tap tap of our fingers hitting the keyboard. We need to find out who are characters are and what they’re doing. So we write a lot of back-story in our beginnings.
What we need to do later is look to see if we really began the story where it should begin or are the first few or ten or twenty pages really just a dump of information or a stumble in the dark? Always be a little suspicious of your beginning. Not necessarily the first line or two which might be perfect, but the first ten pages where your story is trying to get started. You want to jump into your real story as quickly as you can. You want to start your story as close to the heart of the story as possible.
For example, you don’t want to tell all about Bubba’s troubling childhood and fights he had and the wins and losses and his fascination with Sumo Wrestling (a sport he has always loved even though no one in Cowtown, West Texas, knew anything about it) for the first fifty pages if your real story is about Bubba opening a flower shop and meeting Wild Wanda, the woman of his dreams, when he turned fifty. Maybe you want to work in the Sumo Wrestling (who wouldn’t?) but the reader should feel momentum in the beginning and confidence that the writer is taking them someplace. Most of the time this means starting the novel as close to the heart of story as possible.
Or so I think today.