Okay, so dude, I think the beginning of the novel is the hardest to write. Let me just get that out there up front (if only I could do that in my books!).
I know some people complain about the middles, how they sag, how they get muddled, whatever. I'd rather work on a middle than a beginning.
Some people mention the end, how hard they are to get right, how they have to be crafted just so, they have to pay off, etc. I'd much rather work on an end than a beginning.
The beginning is just -- so -- hard.
I've been thinking a lot about why beginnings are difficult for me. I've also been preparing for a presentation to a group of teen authors.
And suddenly, it hit me.
Beginnings are SO HARD because you have to DO SO MUCH in SUCH A SHORT NUMBER OF PAGES.
There are things readers expect:
1. A hook: something to keep them reading.
2. A sympathetic character: why keep reading if they don't care about what happens to the person?
3. Well-crafted writing.
There are things authors also must consider, that maybe readers don't notice as much:
1. A theme. Usually the theme is stated in the first 15 - 20 pages. Did you know that??
2. The set up. You have to establish the world as it is. And this can be hard to do in sci fi and fantasy. Heck, it can be hard to do in the real world.
3. You need the catalyst for change. This usually comes between page 35 - 50. I always tell my crit group, "I want to be surprised by 50." Like, whoa. Where did that come from? And how's the MC going to react to it?
So basically you've got 50 pages to hook a reader, set up the world (and how the MC sees the world), introduce the theme, build a character people will care about, and advance the plot through a catalyst.
No wonder I hate beginnings. No wonder I write out of order.
How do you feel about beginnings? What else do they need in order to be successful?