The beginning of every book is more important than its middle and ending when it comes to readers, and its importance is what authors will focus on when starting a manuscript. This is not to say that authors neglect the middle or ending, but it’s the beginning of a book that will either make you or break you. If an author can’t keep the majority of readers reading the first chapters, the reader definitely isn’t going to stay with the book for its middle or ending. Bluntly put, the beginning of every book can stop the majority of readers dead in their tracks.
Depending on which genre I’m writing, because I write in more than one genre, I want to make sure that there’s a constant measure of tension, but I also focus on something else, which is the basic four parts of a plot. Breaking up these four parts will take too much time, but I will list the first two in a brief description, because it’s the first two that I will focus on at the start of my manuscript.
Part One: My main characters being taken out of their normal, familiar lives and introduced to a new one that’s uncomfortable
Part Two: Forcing them to live this new life without offering them a means of escape
The reason I don’t want to give them a means of escape is because if they can easily walk away from what they’re faced with, there’s no story. It’s as plain as that.
So in the beginning of this new book, Jenna MUST try and kill Sarah. There’s just no way around it. Edouard CANNOT flat out tell his mother he doesn’t want the job of killing someone he loves.
What I must do in the beginning is make the reader understand why Jenna must do what she must, and why Edouard can’t say no to his mom, but I have to do this in story form. By the time I reach part two in the plot, everyone should be on the same page: the author, the reader and the main characters, all traveling the same path and with the same understanding. This doesn’t mean the readers will be able to predict what will happen next. Not at all. All it means is everyone is focused on the basics: there’s a good guy, there’s a bad guy, there’s something my main characters’ desire, and there’s the bad guys trying to stop them.
The reader should have a darn good clue what Edouard’s and Jenna’s desires are. They should also have a clue about who the good person is and the bad one, but again, of course this doesn’t mean that things can’t switch up, especially if there’s a twist in my plot. But having a firm idea from the beginning keeps readers focused on the dilemma that my characters want desperately to get out of. But instead of get them out, I’m going to make things worse for my main characters. By the time I finish with Edouard and Jenna, both will be desperate to accomplish their goals, even if it means turning on specific family members.
Have you ever seen someone desperate? We see this a lot in movies, characters desperate for money or trying to save a family member or escape death. What I must do in the beginning chapters is make the reader desperate to know how Edouard can get out of his situation and if Jenna will eventually get what she wants. Desperate is a big one in this case, but it has to be achieved. If you’ve read Gone Girl, readers were desperate to know in the beginning what happened to Nick Dunne’s wife and if Nick had anything to do with her disappearance. All authors can achieve this goal by revealing small pieces of the plot little by little.
That’s what I did today as I wrote more chapters. I focused on making any reader desperate enough to keep reading to find out what will happen with Edouard and Jenna. To that I had to take both characters out of the life they used to have by making them more uncomfortable in this new one they can’t escape.
My focus today is seen in just about every genre of fiction. Bad things must happen to my characters, and then more bad things until they get to the point of feeling like all is hopeless and there is no escape the challenges they must face.
If you keep reading this blog, it’s the same thing. You’ll learn bit by bit what to do while writing, and hopefully in the end your story will become a bestseller.
This is possible. If I have done this more than once and my books are currently being bought around the world, yours can to!
Stay tuned and keep coming back. Until then, keep writing.
***Note: I didn’t have time today to read over this post, so disregard any typing errors.***