So I took my list of things I decided needed to be in chapter 1 of T.J.’s Story and e-mailed it (along with a write up of why my chapter STILL wasn’t working) to several of my writing friends. This was probably the smartest thing I did all last week. Not only did writing out my thoughts like that help clarify things in my own head, everyone e-mailed me back! (My New Year’s Resolution this year was to spend less time e-mailing/LJing/instant messaging and more time writing…but sometimes e-mailing/LJing/instant messaging actually HELPS the writing!)

One of my friends told me I was being “too rigid” about what the inciting incident could be. (Who me? Rigid???) She tossed out several thoughts…including what if T.J. dyed her hair black and it turned out blue! BRILLIANT!!!! Why didn’t I think of that??? (I liked that idea so much that it was a full 24 hours later before I realized I never finished reading the REST of that e-mail!)

I liked this idea because not only was it much more interesting of a beginning than I had originally, but it would also be a fun scene to write…AND I could use the concept of black and white (because T.J. has hair that is “so blond it’s almost white”) as a symbol!

So I sat down and wrote the scene. It WAS a lot of fun to write…T.J.’s voice really came alive for me and…it’s a GOOD scene!

The only problem is I can’t use it. I realized after I wrote it that there was that little two page scene/chapter at the end of Do You Know the Monkey Man where T.J. arrives at her mom/sister’s. T.J.’s Story actually starts BEFORE that scene (that probably sounds weird, but trust me, it makes sense) so MOM/SIS WOULD’VE NOTICED AND COMMENTED IF T.J. HAD BLUE HAIR THEN!!!!! (That’s the problem with writing a sequel…you are limited by what you’ve already written!)

But it’s okay! I’m still glad I wrote that scene because 1) I started having fun with this book again, 2) I found T.J.’s voice again, and 3) The opening sentence/paragraph/half page of the dye scene was a WAY better beginning than my previous beginning AND…I realized that even if I lost the rest of that scene, I could still keep that first half page! I tried tacking that half page onto the beginning of my old beginning. I had to cut a little bit of the old beginning out and then transition into the part of the old beginning that was actually a little bit interesting and…IT WORKED!!!!

I am once again making forward progress.

I was a little afraid to say so at first because I’ve thought I’d figured out solutions to problems in this book before only to discover that said solutions didn’t look as good three days later. But I think it’s safe to say it’s working this time. I’m through chapter one, almost through chapter two and will be well into chapter three before the end of the day. (Even though it’s a snow day and Junior High Kid is home.)

A new old beginning

7 thoughts on “A new old beginning

  • February 5, 2008 at 1:46 am

    Congrats on the breakthrough!I love my writer buddies. Sometimes I’m not ready to hear what they have to say. But that’s why they are so great, they don’t just tell me what I want to hear. They rock. Congrats again.

    • February 11, 2008 at 8:13 pm

      My husband tries to be a writer buddy for me…he’ll tell me things I need to hear about my work that I’m not quite ready to hear yet. Or maybe things I don’t want to hear FROM HIM. I have no problem hearing the same thing from my “real” writer buddies. I don’t know why that is.

      But you’re right…as writers, we need people like that in our lives. People who will tell us what we NEED to hear, not just what we want to hear.

  • February 6, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    convoluted paths

    It is definitely interesting the convoluted paths we take to get a simple opening scene! Glad it’s working now.


    • February 11, 2008 at 8:18 pm

      Re: convoluted paths

      Ha! Would you believe I wrote ANOTHER opening scene over the weekend? Right now it’s still in a separate file…I haven’t fully committed to it yet. I’m wasting too much time trying to figure out my beginning. So I’m trying to keep moving forward and then when I get to the end hopefully it’ll be clear which beginning is right. I have MANY different beginnings to choose from! šŸ™‚

  • February 11, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Re: sequels

    Don’t be! It is frustrating sometimes…but it’s also a lot of fun. Especially when I find things I unknowingly set up in book one that I can suddenly do something with in book 2. I LOVE when that happens!

    Good luck with your manuscripts! (Are you SURE you have to sell the first one first? Maybe you could market them both??? Send them to different publishers, I mean…without letting them know there’s a prequel or a sequel available, too.)


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