A New First Page For My Novel
The other day, I came across the highly enjoyable “Death Of 1000 Cuts” feature on Tim Clare’s website, wherein aspiring writers submit their opening 250 words for Clare to dissect. The result is often painful – Clare doesn’t exactly hold back with his criticisms – but also often useful. I soon got thinking about how Clare would treat my own novel’s opening page, and reached a conclusion soon afterwards:
He would tear it to shreds.
For me, the issue with my first page is not so much the quality of writing, but rather the fact that nothing of note happens. The page sets up what will later be a recurring narrative device and also helps to set up the “hook” that comes a couple of pages later – both fine on their own, but not really opening material. What I needed was something to really grab readers’ attention, something to pull them in right from the get-go.
Now, my novel is a SF story in which an intelligent parasite is one of the central characters. This character is never the viewpoint, but the story largely happens because of this character’s actions. So, I had an idea: why not open with the parasite’s point of view?
This new opening, as I imagine it, will be exceedingly short: I don’t want it to be more than a page or two, so much more than 500 words is out of the question. Even so, getting it right may take a while: this parasite has rather odd patterns of thinking and so will be a much harder viewpoint to write than any of my human characters.
I must admit that I’m pretty excited: even if I don’t end up using this scene, writing it ought to “teach” me quite a bit extra about this character. This in turn should make it easier to work out the character’s gestures, speech patterns and so on for the remainder of my second draft.
Expect a post on how this went before the end of the day 🙂