Wednesday, November 7, 2012

First Scenes

Well I posted my insecurities about not having time for NaNo and crazy November on Monday (thank you for all your encouraging responses!), but I don't want to skip an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. I am still very behind on NaNo, but I do have some words down. That's still something, right?

Here's my question for you: How important do you think your very first scene is, and how much do you end up re-writing it? I think first scenes are super important, because they will be the first thing the editor, literary agent, or reader sees. It should have some kind of tension, should introduce the characters and plot but not dump tons of info on them.

For interest's sake, here's the first 160 words of my NaNo project. You tell me. Would you keep reading? 

“We’re not supposed to be in here,” Anasta said, glancing around the low-lit storage room that gave off a comforting hum as it was right above the engine room, the heart of the ship.
“I’m telling you, I traced the power glitch to this room,” her brother, Taren, replied, tapping commands into his datapad with one hand while holding it with the other.
“It was just a little glitch,” Anasta persisted. “Harley can fix it tomorrow.”
Taren, his grey eyes the same changing shade as hers fixed on the screen, didn’t appear to be listening to her any more. She sighed. Why did she always let him get her into trouble? On the other hand, he probably could fix it. Possibly without even leaving a digital trail for Harley to find tomorrow so they wouldn’t get in trouble for being in there. Her fifteen-year-old brother knew the Anemo’s systems almost as well as the thirty-year-old techie did.

How is your NaNo or other writing project going? Is your first scene what you hoped it would be?

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Check the link for some of the other blogs participating in this event!

31 comments:

  1. I rewrote the opening scene for my second book dozens of times. The pressure of trying to hook right away!
    Maybe a little more tension in the opening scene, but I'd keep reading! I sense trouble brewing...

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    1. Yes, I will probably end up doing the same. Hooking is tricky!

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  2. I've written my first chapter so many times I lost count!

    I liked your opening scene. But the sentence "Possibly without even leaving a digital trail for Harley to find tomorrow so they wouldn't get in trouble for being in there" I had to read twice. It was a little confusing, to me. But I would definitely read on!

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    1. Well, with NaNo I don't stop to reword, so the first draft is pretty rough and there will probably be many more confusing sentences to fix by the time I'm done! :) Thanks for pointing that out.

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  3. I loved your opening 160 words! I would definitely keep reading it! I have to agree with jaybird's coment about that one sentence feeling awkward, but I really liked the scene! I'm sorry I didn't drop by on Monday.
    My first chapter for Champion still isn't where I want it to be . . .and I don't know if it ever will be.
    My first words for NaNo 2012 are:
    It all started innocently enough, with a card game in the barracks during off hours. Doug was winning. His side of the table held a dozen credit slips, a pink slip for hover-bike, and a few watches. Doug loved card games of all times and cultures. His Grandad, Grand Admiral Cranton the first, had taught him all the tricks before he even started standard school lessons. He knew that some people felt that counting cards and reading player’s faces was tantamount to cheating, but he figured that if they all played to their fullest ability, then he shouldn’t have to hold back. Besides, it was easy. Any fool smart enough to make it into the Spacy Navy should be able to do it.
    Unfortunately, the Space Navy admitted even bigger fools, like Reynad Colter from the Eutrope Moon Colony.
    As Doug won another game, sweeping up the cards from the table, Reynad stood up, and knocked the whole table onto Doug’s lap.

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    1. Ooh, there is tension brewing there! I might shorten the back story paragraph a little to keep the reader's attention, but I would definitely keep reading.

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  4. Well, I think the first scene is important but it's not make or break, at least not for me, because I know it is just the first scene and there's still a lot of story to follow. That said, I probably have enough rejected first scenes to fill a book.

    I agree with Jaybird on the sentence she mentioned and I'd add Anasta's first line, the part after Anasta said— it seems too long for one sentence maybe. I'd make it it's own sentence. But I'd definitely keep reading.

    And as I have no idea what my NaNo project even is, it's hard to say if my first scene is what I'd hoped it would be. But I bet I'll write a new one before the 30th.

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    1. Thanks for the advice! haha, yeah, I'm trying not to rewrite anything for NaNo.

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  5. I haven't re-written an opening scene (yet <.< ) but I have a couple of times re-written the beginning of chapters. I can think of a couple examples where I got a page or 2 down into a new chapter and I just didn't like it, so I ripped out those pages and started back at the beginning of that chapter. If it doesn't feel right, it needs to go straight away, otherwise I can't continue.

    I'm not actually participating in NaNo because I just don't have the time. I'm lucky to get one day a week to sit and type furiously at the moment, let alone do it every day ^^;;. I do get to scribble notes in a notebook at work though, so its not all bad teehee!

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    1. Any words are better than none! Right now I am managing 1000 a day.

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  6. I think the first scene is important too. I think you have a great opening line here which draws us in. I think a little more tension/pacing but I'd carry on reading so for a first draft you have something ;)

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  7. First scenes are important, especially since that's the first thing a person most likely reads. I don't tend to worry about them much when I'm drafting, though. I've learned I struggle with beginnings, so I will end up with something different and better in rewrites/edits.

    I do like the mystery and atmosphere surrounding your first 160 words. I'd keep reading.

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    1. Glad to hear it! Yeah, I'm not worried too much about perfection at this point in the process :)

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  8. I'd totally keep reading. It's all such a balance. I'm a fan of tense openings, but in a way that immediately immerses the reader--it's all so hard! ;-)

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    1. It is hard! And it is difficult not to info dump. Sometimes I feel like I need to just to keep myself straight with the story details.

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  9. First scenes are very important since they give a hint towards the tone of the novel, the conflict, and the main characters. I'd keep reading! My first scene of my NaNo novels starts with the murder of my MC's best friend. Good luck with NaNo! Keep writing!

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    1. Well that is definitely a tense start!

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  10. The first scene is definitely the most important thing for submissions, the first page in particular. Most of the advice for writers now is to have that opening scene start with some type of action to hook the reader. Your opening does that, hooks the reader in with the tension that they're going to get caught, get in trouble, or worse... I would keep reading! :)

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  11. You've got a good hook with that scene. First scenes are crucial. I often go back and re-write, but then I re-write everything so that's not a surprise. The first line, however, I've usually thought about for so long that's fixed and won't be changed.

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    1. I like interesting first lines... but I'll worry about that later :)

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  12. First scenes are vital. This looks good to me, it sucked me right in. So do I have to count how many times I rewrote mine? That's a pretty high number, lol.

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    1. haha, yeah, I tend to rewrite a few times too. Maybe I won't as much if I outline.

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  13. First scenes are hard. Like the others said, there's a bit of awkwardness in a couple spots, but I get that this is a first draft. I think we get a good sense of these two characters. You've told us a lot without doing an 'info dump.' I'm interested. I'd keep reading. :)

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  14. First scenes are the most difficult ones to write! I would keep reading after this excerpt, for sure:)
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  15. i agree with everyone else's comments, except that one sentence it's a good read! don't doubt your abilities!! new follower here...hi!!

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  16. That's a great start for a first draft, especially for Nano. As long as you are getting words down, it is a good thing. You can still catch up. Last year I was really sick from Nov. 1 to about the tenth and didn't start writing until around the 5th, but I caught up. This year I am cheating a little b/c I am finishing my last years novel and filling in the rest of the word count with short stories. It's a lot easier than starting a new novel, and I just wasn't in the space to start a new one. IMO, Nano is for YOU and whatever you end up with at the end of November is a good thing.

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  17. I like what you've written here and totally want to read more! Excellent start!

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