Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

What is Your Beginning?

Though I'm doing revisions, my mind still ambles about, looking at things it probably shouldn't since it SHOULD be focused on adding words, deleting words, cutting phrases, fixing broken paragraphs.  You know, the stuff it wants to avoid.

Enter shiny new idea.
Chase that baby down!

Is this the beginning?  Would you consider the beginning the moment you spot this comet hurtling along the fringe of your mind?  Or would it be when you reach out and grab it by its sparkling tail, wrangling it in with fits and starts until you're worn out but grinning from ear to ear because you've claimed it?

I pondered this as I considered what the beginning would be for MINGLED.  It came to me as a shiny new idea during early fall, around September 2011.  Inspired by The Hunger Games, I thought I'd write up something sort of like it, except, I have a thing for the paranormal so I figured I could go with the post-apocalyptic scene, weave in my paranormal element(s) and go from there.

But...

I didn't start writing story details down until a week or two before NaNoWriMo.  Then in November, I banged out 20-25k words before hitting life's brick wall and getting a little too ill to work it out to 50k like I wanted.

I'm looking at NaNoWriMo 2011 as the beginning of my story.  What do you consider as the beginning for yours?

37 comments:

Tara Tyler said...

i keep having the same problem! i may just do nano this year to get one of those beginnings to flourish!

Raelyn Barclay said...

No two stories come to me the same way (The idea of that beginning is different; a character, a scene, a what-if, a why, an image). But the grabbing comes when I write something down whether just a note or a scene or a character description, so I guess that would be the beginning for me :)

Interesting post Angela!

Julie Dao said...

This is so sad... I've been working on this WIP for two years now and I can't remember how it began. As a tiny dusty little idea from the very corners of my brain, I guess, and then my fingers started to type type type. I'm heavily inspired by music so I wouldn't be surprised if a song brought it to mind!

Angela Brown said...

I've actually got a story idea or two that I'm holding to see if I want to use one or the other for NaNo this year as well.

Angela Brown said...

You make a very nice distinction. Thanks, Raelyn.

Angela Brown said...

Nothing sad about that at all. I have two other WiPs that I couldn't tell you a thing about when they got started. I'd have to just toss out a ballpark guess lol!!! But I think it's interesting that music is inspirational for you. Very cool.

Angela Cothran said...

I always consider the very first inkling of an idea the start. If that is true it take me years to finish a book :)

Angela Brown said...

See, I suppose that's why I ponder about it. Beginnings differ for people. I ran across an author interview where the question of "how long it took to write up the MS" was posed. Interesting to see how different people respond to this question.

1000th.monkey said...

I just get a flash of a scene through my head, as clear as watching a movie, all technicoloured-up with full surround-sound.

...and I just start writing.

I figure out when I'm done the first draft if I started in the right place or not :)

Linda Jackson said...

The beginning of my current WIP? A name. I have a friend who has a very unique name, and she asked me to use it in a story. I'm not using her name, but it sparked the beginning of my current wip.

Randy said...

I come up with lots of ideas for stories. Usually, I jot down a quick note about it and then move on. For me the starting of a story is when I sit down and begin the plotting process I use to turn an idea into an actual story.

Angela Brown said...

That sounds like fun-tastic pantsing right there. I love it!

Angela Brown said...

Ooohh, the things that start the fire for our stories are so interesting.

Angela Brown said...

Thanks, Randy. I think that's the same I did for determining the start for this current WiP I'm revising.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I look at the spark of the idea as my beginnings. With my first book, I can still go back to the original drawing that sparked the story.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

My beginning is always when I first think of a character. Oddly enough, this usually happens in the shower. I'll think, "I want to write a new story, a story about..." and then I begin to build a character. I let them germinate in my head for a while, then make some notes, then germinate some more before I start writing.

Heather said...

Beginnings are tough. I like to start as close to the inciting incident that sets everything in motion as I can. That way every word counts!

Shelley Munro said...

For me the beginning is when I have tight GMC for my main characters, and I sit down and start writing. I can percolate ideas for months. Sometimes the ideas take a long time to mesh together into something concrete.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

A couple years ago, I was sitting in the high school auditorium, waiting for my daughter's play practice to end, and playing with my new smart phone. I was working on a novella and researching ghost stories of the Pocono Mountain region of Pennsylvania. I found a promising website with links to all kinds of stories ... and one of them led me to a photograph.

Of a grave with an iron cage around it.

That was the beginning. Everything from that point on was inevitable.

M Pax said...

The beginnings for the shelved novels, which will get prettied up some day started years ago. Thew new ones, which I'm publishing started a year or less ago.

Candy Lynn Fite said...

Way-to-cool-of-a-post, Angela. Mine sort of came about like Dianne's idea. Except mine wasn't a photograph, it was a museum exhibit in the Museum of Big Bend, in Alpine, TX. Funny thing, my hubby drove me 10 hours to west Texas for research on a story. I came home with a completely different concept / premise and character!

I sat in a restored covered wagon, and saw flashes of a story unfold in my mind. Scenes, characters, and even a voice. My husband thought I was nuts. I sat in the exhibit, hogging it for over an hour, jotting down notes in my notebook. Because I wanted it to be written for a YA audience, I had to tone down the scenes. It was a tough story to hear, and I think I've stayed as close to the truth as I could for my audience, without going to dark.

Hopefully, my betas will help me with the "did I go to far or not enough" concept. :))

It was an incredible "beginning" for my wip.

I love New Shiny Ideas, however, I've started jotting those down in my idea spiral and let them rest. If the idea will not leave me alone, I know it's something to keep.

I've got one Shiny, in particular, that I'm saving for the moment I begin querying my current wip! Maybe I'll join you this year with NaNo and draft it then. :)

Thank you for this thoughtful post, I enjoyed it!

Maria Zannini said...

I'm the same way as Shelley. Once I have my GMC, I've got something to work with.

Angela Brown said...

Wow, Alex. That is definitely cool. Love the different views.

Angela Brown said...

I've heard the shower is a great place for inspiration. I probably need to stop singing there and let my mind use it for thought processing.

Angela Brown said...

Very true, Heather.

Angela Brown said...

That's a pretty good description of the "start date" so-to-speak of a particular work.

Angela Brown said...

I'm still spooked that there are actually graves with cages. Not like a large sized mausoleum but like, a regular grave.

Angela Brown said...

That is very interesting. Doing a sort of last-in-first-out kind of thing :-)

Angela Brown said...

That is such a cool story of how you came to work on your current WiP. Can't wait to see what that darling is all about.

Angela Brown said...

Starting points really do vary for some and have a similar point for others.

Peggy Eddleman said...

The beginning time wise? Gosh. It's been so long, I can't even remember. ;) The spark of a story idea came almost exactly three years ago. It's a story that took A LOT of planning ahead of time, so I didn't start it until January two years ago.

The REAL beginning was when I took some cold medicine that woke me up in the middle of the night and kept me up for hours. My MC talked to me for the first time then. :)

Angela Brown said...

A drug-induced conversation with your MC. Only a writer can get away with saying that and it be taken seriously :-) Because, trust me, I've had a conversation or two myself with an MC at an unexpected moment.

Eileen Rhoadarmer said...

My beginning is when I actually start brainstorming and/or writing. I've got a huge list of ideas, many of which grabbed me by the throat when I first came up with them, but until they start forming into an actual story, they're nothing. Many of them don't make any sense if I don't write them right away and then look over the list a year later.

mshatch said...

I like your analogy :) I think it was when I started thinking about it and playing what if and then moved on to asking more serious questions like, okay, but what is it really about? What are the stakes? Then I knew I had me a shiny new toy!

Nadja Notariani said...

Shiny new idea is great. I'm there myself this week. Can't wait to get started! Then Pinterest took over. Uhhh, yeah. I'm looking at things I shouldn't be either. Ha!

Mike Keyton said...

Some people plan/plot in detail but I can't do that initially. I need a rough idea, some characters and a place. For me that's the kindling. Once the fire is going, then I can start plotting a few more chapters ahead, and after that I see my way clear to the end of the book.

In this context, the opening paragraphs/chapter comes easy and fresh. The writing flows. On occasions, when the book is done I might have second thoughts and writer a more fitting first chapter. Other occasions it stays with a lick and a polish

Medeia Sharif said...

When an idea takes hold of me, I start writing notes. I don't work on it right away until I get the current wips out of the way. Some ideas are fleeting and don't capture my attention. I still should write them down, but I don't.

Have a great weekend.

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