A Novel's Beginning


For all I've been fighting shy of it, I snuck back into my ongoing novel Cromozone last week. Each time I've been back after a break I've snipped away at the opening pages, presuming it needed just a touch more editing to get it right.

Now comes a breakthrough. The book's told as a first person journal. I've moved the action back a couple of hours and started there, a brand new incident. It brings in immediate drama, introduces a wide span of characters ... and by the time the previous opening comes about we already have extra information to play off. So those pages are much stronger too.

Part of my process of writing a novel is to return, again and again, to edit earlier pages. The further I got in this book the more I felt like a builder piling bricks on top of a weak foundation. I'm very happy to have what I now know to be the opening ... the book is now guaranteed, whereas before I knew it was starting on a weak foot.

In fact the opening sentence is the same one I started out with a year ago. The energy of that sentence propelled the book. 30,000 words in I've now had a great work-out in the narrator's voice. I was able to go back and make the opening as strong as it needs to be.

That breakthrough was three days ago. Tomorrow's challenge starts with strengthening what I've written today.

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