Monday, August 12, 2013

The evolution of a first page

The first page of THE LEGACY OF THE EYE has changed quite bit since I first started writing the novel. Some writers begin too early and need to cut several pages before they find the engaging start. My problem seems to be the opposite. The original opening I wrote is now on page 152.

What I thought was back story that could be given in short flashbacks was actually the inciting incident and first major plot point. Apparently, I started writing the story from the mid-point. Hence, I had to work my way forward and backward, to the beginning and end. And even after I thought I had a complete story, I realized I was not beginning with a hook. So I added an extra scene.

My new first page is below. You can compare it with the previous version here. Feedback is always appreciated.


CHAPTER 1

David: Proposal

It might have been a symbolic gesture, but I was not budging. My hand covered the keypad inside the traveling pod as I faced the old instructor standing next to me. "Come on, Max. We're leaving the school anyway, why not let me punch the code?"

Arms crossed over his loose-fitting black outfit, the short instructor obscured the pod's doorway. "The council should have made you wait until after graduation like everyone else."

Cat and I had been confined in the school since we were two. What difference would two weeks make after sixteen years? "We've earned the distinction."

"Next you'll ask to stop for a black uniform on the way out," Max said.

We probably earned that too, but I knew how to pick my battles.

Cat's hand pressed my shoulder. "David, we'll be late."

"Tell him that."

"You're only making him more stubborn, Max," she said. "You know we have no reason to run away."

The instructor hesitated. Would he make us miss our appointment with the council? He knew Cat and I could not navigate the maze of buildings to get to the gates--even disregarding the risk of being detained as soon as we left the governance complex. Our gray uniforms would give us away as soon as we stepped outside because students were not allowed to leave their home departments. How long would it take to convince every instructor in our path that we had an appointment with the council? We had one, not fourteen daylight hours to reach the government building.

4 comments:

  1. It looks good and intriguing. I'd perhaps have the instructor placed in the doorway first, and ground the beginning in a little more scenic detail.


    And I think one of my stories has it's original beginning spaced out over twelve chapters. I tired to cram so much that it was a list of childhood years. -_-

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    1. Thanks for the comment. I keep moving the first few sentences around. It's so hard to figure out what information the reader wants first. I added the "standing next to me" because some people were having a hard time placing the characters in the scene. I've tried saying the instructor obscured the doorway first, but then he comes across as a big guy. And if I move all that information to the first paragraph it gets too clunky. I could say he was in the doorway before I say his arms were crossed, but I like the way the sentence sounds the way it is now. Decisions, decisions...

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  2. It can be hard to find the perfect place to begin. Having read some other versions of the beginning, I like this because it tells me more about the world within the pages than your other first pages. But I wonder if there's a way to merge them, the one I know and this. My suggestion would be to have David and Cat making their way, include some of their conversation, enough of an interchange to show some character, and then have them run into this guy. Then you've got the urgency of them trying to get to the council compounded by these hints of something dark and dangerous beneath the surface.

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    1. Thanks Marcy! I find it really hard to get setting, situation and character in the first page. I really liked the old version but the setting only got introduced on the second page and for sci-fi that's not good enough. Now, the conversation you like is on the next page, while they are traveling in the pod after they leave without their instructor.

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