Andrea G Stewart

Art and Writing

Season's Greetings and Openings

Happy holidays, everyone! I happened to write the beginning to Lestoor's Chosen years and years ago, and put it aside to work on later.  Unfortunately, by the time I finished the rough draft in November, the beginning no longer worked.  Not only was the writing of questionable quality, but my friend who read the rough draft told me, "You know, the beginning is slow, but it really picks up once it hits Chapter 3."

I'd gone through the submission process before, for my trunked novel, Songweaver's Awakening.  What do agents want to see?  Sometimes you can submit the first five pages with the query, and if they ask for a partial, it's usually the first three chapters.  So if your opening isn't captivating, you're out of luck.

I tried three or four times to re-write the beginning from where I'd originally started, to add tension and correct the quality.  It just wouldn't hold together.  In retrospect, the answer seems simple - it picks up when it hits Chapter 3?  Delete everything before Chapter 3.  In the midst of it, it's difficult to know where you're going wrong.  Chapter 3 didn't feel like a natural opener to me.  Too much had happened before, the relationships between the characters would be too confusing, I hadn't had the chance to show where my main character had come from... I had a thousand excuses.

Finally, when faced by my writing group, and asked the question "Why does the story have to start here?" I realized that it didn't.  My main character wasn't undergoing any major changes, and it wasn't setting up the main conflict of the novel.  The past could be filled in as the story moved forward, the relationships between characters shown through a few words or a touch, the origins of my main character explained through the way she processed the world.

So I deleted everything before Chapter 3, wrote a quick opener for Chapter 3, and went from there.  Finally, I have a beginning that works.