Listening to Jack Johnson desperately trying to stay awake is not the best way to successfully survive working an overnight shift; JJ isn’t really the kind of music that keeps you stimulated. It is this moment when I crack open my first energy drink in forever; I stopped drinking them when they started giving me chest pressure.
For some reason the concept of beginnings keep running through my mind. It could be a result of beginning the second novel, or just with how I’ve been struggling lately with some of the shorts. The story telling process in general has been circling my head recently.
Even the most epic of tales still begin with but a single word. Whether you’re trying to pound out a three page short or an 80,000 word novel; you have to start with a single letter… word… sentence. I’m the spirit of beginning the second novel in the Janus series I want to give beginnings their proper praise.
The ideas that circulate in my mind and the possibilities of which way the story will go has become an intoxicating experience; I also don’t want to start writing because the moment I get past the opening few chapters then the story is on a track heading towards the ending.
I think that’s why the shorts were very good for me the last couple of weeks. It allows me to purge some of these other ideas from my mind and get them down in text before continuing with the story.
The beginning of a story is when a writer most resembles a God in his own world. You have yet to really established any rules or foundation to the reader so up to this point anything is possible; literally. If human kind has been enslaved by super intelligent sea turtles, that’s awesome… if over hundreds of years evolved into a race with four arms, sure!… If your main character is a dimension jumping police officer who knows he’s in a story and continually makes nods to the reader, that’s all fair game.
The possibilities are endless. The beginning is when you craft your domain. The challenge that really comes with the beginning of your story is to not go into so much detail with your construction that you can’t keep track of your own rules. Readers will pick up on that.
For example if the sea turtles were telepathic and expressed their will with direct communication to the brains of their human slaves… then a few chapters they start talking verbally all of a sudden. Or if you establish that humans have had four arms for the last 200 years or so, yet your main character was only born with two, and no one even notices the difference. You can’t just arbitrarily make changes like this… it needs to fit your world. If you make these kind of changes you need to justify it in a way that is consistent with the world you’ve been creating up to this point. The important part is never to contradict without justification.
These examples are a bit ridiculous but it’s late and I’m tired so I apologize.
The beginning of the second novel plays a lot with the established ground rules from the original story; after you’ve read a full novel in this universe you begin to develop a sense for what’s going on… I really like to play with expectations in my writing. The second novel is changing some of the established rules, but in a justifiable way that doesn’t conflict with what was established in the first story.
Again this speaks to the power of the beginning. There are moments in the early parts of this book that will have people scratching their heads; especially if they read the first. But the aim is to make it head scratching enough to make them want to continue to figure it all out.
I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to write about story beginnings without actually giving some spoilers for what I’ve salvaged from the terrible rough draft I wrote earlier.
My favorite part of the process is the beginning, without question.
However I’ve been at this for a little too long and the energy drink is beginning to kick in so its time to get back to the grind.