Trouble Starting

I’m doing what may be the final re-write of my book Panic No More, about Nick, the son of a formerly prominent family who is harassed by the Goat God.

I think this is my fifth re-write of this book, and part of the reason why I’ve never been satisfied with it is I never quite started it off right. I had lots of good ideas, but I could never quite nail down the first scene.

Then I had an epiphany. I was so worried about what other people would think of my beginning, I forgot to write what I wanted to write. I had done all the things that the books on writing tell you to do, but I wasn’t really happy with it myself.

I was trying to eliminate the long front porch and get quickly to the character interaction, and jump immediately into action, saving the backstory for later. And the more I did all of those things, the more I didn’t like it.

So, instead of jumping right into the action, I started over 150 years before the story starts. And I think it worked. I like it, at least. Here’s a taste:

In 1852, Nick’s Great-Great Grandfather Clayton Earl Baker moved from Philadelphia to Iowa and made his home in the newly-founded state capitol of Iowa City, which he believed would soon become the next gateway to the west, a bustling metropolis which would rival St. Louis in size. He was wrong, of course.


The capitol moved on in 1857, but by then Clayton had set down roots, sinking his entire fortune into a factory which produced his patented dental instruments and anesthetics, and building Baker House, an expansive Victorian home, which rivaled many eastern estates in its opulence if not its size.

One thought on “Trouble Starting

  1. D. Moonfire

    I think I’m in the same boat with FOTS. I don’t mine the “long porch” as you said it, but the more I try to get the story really going in the beginning, I think I miss some of the useful details of building up the character, introducing them slowly, and letting you get to know them.

    But, then I get “I wouldn’t bother reading this after the second page” from a number of people. It’s frustrating, because I don’t know the right balance of bringing things up to speed, keeping it interesting, and still tell the story I want.

    Now, one suggestion is to use “in medias res”, but I really don’t like reading stories that use that technique. I like my books linear, at least along the time axis.


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