I started this blog sometime in 2009, but posted only twice. In January of this year I decided to try my hand at keeping up. For a long time, I had 1 follower (hi Aven). In February, along came a couple of others. All the sudden, I have 50+. Thank you everyone. I hope you are enjoying my blog - and if there's anything you'd like to see/hear let me know :)

Also, if you have become a follower and I haven't returned the favor, it's probably because I can't get your blog link from your little picture. If you comment in a post, I can get your trail and check out your blog, too.

There's a fabulous contest going on at Shooting Stars. You can win a 40 page crit by an agent, amongst other great prizes. Wow, indeed.

I've mentioned it before, but I'm really struggling over my opening chapter of Roulette. It's so critical to get that first chapter just so.

It must have a strong opening line, a great hook and the voice of your character. I've rewritten my beginning more than I care to count. I think today I managed to get something out that works.

Here are three different opening paragraphs that Roulette has had.

The Dream had begun shortly after my twelfth birthday, three nights after my parents disappeared. They simply vanished without a trace, along with the meanings behind indiscernible words. I always awoke from The Dream feeling disoriented, panicked and very much alone.


The idiot driving a Jeep Wrangler almost hit me as I scurried across the street with an armful of books. Rain spattered harder onto my head and, with only a brief evil-eye his direction, I picked up speed. At the first locked door I wanted to grab my cell phone and tell them to forget it, but I knew what the answer would be: I'd put this off as long as they would allow already.

I kicked the door and darted back into the afternoon sun-shower in search of a way in.

Yet another:

Everyone wants to change something about their life. For instance, mine would be easier without the constant feeling of being watched. Not to mention the paranoia which accompanies that feeling. Though, it seemed unlikely a killer would wear red.

One of these is the current opener--as of today anyway. *speaks in deep, yet passive voice* All paragraphs subject to change. Actual wording may vary where applicable.

Anybody kept the basics of their original opening? Anyone counted how many different ones they've had? (Those aren't my only versions, just my strongest contenders, and there have been many variables on those paragraphs, even.)


Piedmont Writer said...

Well, if you want to know which one I'd pick, I'd have to say #3. Because you never open with a dream, the second one is okay but it's kind of meh, but the third one well -- who doesn't want to change something about their lives, and hey, how about a killer that wears red. THAT is a great line.

Christine Danek said...

I like #2. So far I am on my 4th opening for my WiP. Thanks for sharing!

DL Hammons said...

I've lost count on how many times I've changed my opening. But the first line has always remained the same!

My pick of your paragraphs would actually a combination of #1 & #3. I like the concept of the third one, but the parents vanishing is a great hook that needs to be introduced early. My two cents.

Talli Roland said...

The beginning is so hard! I usually rewrite it at least 10 times, although I generally stick with the same scenario.

I like #3 the best!

Tara said...

DL - First line the same? That's impressive!

3 is the keeper here, this time - or for now. But, the vanishing parents hook comes in a one-liner about 4 paragraphs later - it's just laid out in a much different way.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggles with my opening. So hard.

sarahjayne smythe said...

If I can't get the begninning right it doesn't seem like I can write at all. I change it until it feels right and then at least I can get some kind of flow with my words. It generally makes me crazy until I nail down the tone I want. And I like number three. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I've rewritten my beginning a few times. In my marinating ms, I had several major changes - from eliminating whole chapters to changing entire timelines.

Shelley Sly said...

I like all your beginnings, actually. It's funny how beginnings are often the part that changes the most. In my first book, my current opening is my 5th opening, and I think I've finally found the one that works best.

KarenG said...

#2 and #3 have both hooked me! I want to read this book! And on the blog/follower subject-- isn't it odd how we all find each other online? When I started my blog I wondered how in the world to get followers. I never imagined I'd get to 25, let alone 80!

Tara said...

Sarah Jayne - Interesting. My SFD was finished before I went back and did my first rewrite of Ch. 1.

Jemi - I hear ya. I rewrote my entire ending as soon as I finished the first go-round. And I kept very little of the original.

Shelley - As far as direction, this is the 3rd rewrite. But, I've changed each of those rewrites a bunch, without changing the context.

Karen - Thank you for the nice comment :) I agree, it is odd they way we connect. I really had no idea how this all worked. I'm enjoying it.

FWIW, I was with Anne, exactly, on the 2nd - it's okay, but meh.

Lola Sharp said...

I'm with DL...I like the third the best, but really love the hook about the parents disappearing. I'd be sure to get that in early.

Writing is rewriting, as they say. True that.

My beginnings rarely give me trouble, and I usually feel good about my endings. It's the plot line snags through the middle that I tend to rewrite a million times.

Thanks for sharing...great post, my friend.

Peace out,

Susan Fields said...

I'd choose paragraph #3, and it sounds like a lot of others would as well. You're right - openers are so important. Who's going to read paragraph 2 if paragraph 1 didn't grab their attention? This is making me rethink my current opener...

Mary Aalgaard said...

I like the 3rd one the best. And, yes. I restarted my novel at least five times. At the moment, I've set it aside and started writing a play. I needed a change of scenery.

Tara said...

Lola - not surprisingly you've picked up my favorite saying! My 8th grade English teacher handed it down (I still have no idea where it came from). Across the top of her chalkboard she always had: Writing is rewriting what you've already rewritten. It's stuck with me for a lot of years!

Susan - I love your opener - the 2nd bit you posted today was very strong!

Mary - I get the change of scenery thing. Many a time I had to stop and write a scene for a later book while doing my current one. Just needed to see something new.

Lola Sharp said...

Tara, I have used that favorite quote for years, and in many past posts, I think it may even be a post title to one of my past posts. I believe it is by Ernest Hemingway, although EB White has an equally famous quote:
"The best writing is rewriting."

And, another famous version, "Good writing is essentially rewriting."
~ Roald Dahl

Pretty much every famous author ever has a version of it. 'Cause, yeah, it's all true 'n stuff.



She Writes said...

I like the first the most.

VR Barkowski said...

Dreams are a no, even though I like #1. Of the selection, I like #3 best. It instantly gives me tone and something I can relate to. On the other hand, action opens like #2 are supposedly the big sell these days.

Tiffany Neal said...

I have rewritten mine at least 4 times. And every time it's perfect, I change it again! :)

This is the life of a writer.

I vote on #3!

Solvang Sherrie said...

My openings usually change a LOT. For my first book, I don't even know how many I wrote and rewrote. It's the most critical part of the story. And yet, for the book I'm getting ready to send out, it has stayed pretty much the same from the beginning. It was one of those inspired things that happen so rarely. The paragraphs after have changed, but the first paragraph has not.