Beginning Balancing Act

I just started reading a new book.  So far it has done a nice job of walking the tightrope that is the beginning of a novel.

Starting a story is always tricky, both to read and to write.  Most of the time a tale jumps in along the line of someone’s life.  This means that while the characters have a whole history leading up to the point where the book begins, you don’t know any of it.

As a reader this leads to a frustrating situation.  If the author takes too much time to explain the back story, you get bored.  If the author doesn’t give you enough information, you get confused.  The best stories start with just enough information to keep you informed while also leaving enough out to pique your interest.  The book I’m reading now has managed to find that balance.

This piece is a big reason why many authors complain about starting a novel.  The first few chapters require a lot of polishing, a lot of effort, because that is where readers decide if they are bored, confused, or interested enough to keep reading.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. deshipley
    Aug 06, 2012 @ 08:42:24

    And don’t think you’re getting out of the character history challenge by beginning with the character’s birth. Chances are the world had a story before MC came along, and if MC’s telling the tale in retrospect, she’ll have her history in her head while reliving the beginning.
    I just finished drafting an introductory section of my Camp NaNo WIP, and yes, it gave me difficulties. I’ll wait ’til after I’ve gotten some feedback from my go-to beta to decide whether I pulled it off or not. (:


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