This little pondering is more for those with finished drafts than those working through their first draft. It is my opinion that in the first draft you should just go for it! Don’t hold back, put it all on paper… then when you come back to do your second draft you can get picky and fussy and cut things out and change this or that.

So you’ve got your first draft finished, you’re working through it again and wondering where to begin the story… (or maybe you’re not but the stories beginning is a good thing to wonder about)

I have read lots of articles and blogs etc where people say not to drag out the intro too much – cut to the chase, avoid pages where characters are just doing ‘stuff’ – like going to work or school or for a walk… yawn…

On the other hand you want to set your character up in the readers mind, how does your character thing or feel and so on. You want to draw the reader into their world – which may be the world of a boring 9-5 job and the adventure of a once a quater haircut appointment.

One way to think about it is to consider if cutting the first five pages from the story would be all that bad? Would anything vital go missing?

What about the next five pages? Anything really important in them?

Does your Main character describe some event in your first five pages (or 10 etc)? can you change this so that instead of a recount you put the reader into that event? Either by changing the timeline or by skipping a few years to the next part in the story – as examples.

One thing i do hear time and time again is that your first line has to grab the agent… then maybe you can grab the reader… and the first five pages have to sell the whole book so there’s no point reading this post and saying or thinking something like ‘yeah but all my action starts on page fifty and the ending’s really good so i don’t have to change the beginning.’

If you really don’t want to cut anything from the beginning try saving that draft under a different name and playing with an alternative copy of the story – so if in the end you don’t like your revisions you can always go back to the untouched copy and try a different angle.