Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Revenge of the Suck Monster

The Suck Monster Liveth. And It dwells in Chapter One.

Well, the first few pages of the Chapter One.

I had an attack of The Rules, you see. And since the setting wasn’t the US, and the hero, whose POV the story opens in, wasn’t American, and the heroine wasn’t with him, I was struggling to pack location, nationality, immediacy into the first page, and shied back from my original idea of a prologue in omnipresent POV describing a photograph of the heroine.

You see, the spectre of McWife is going to haunt me with this book. I have put the heroine (Emily) in the hero (Tristan)’s power, he’s whisked her away to a remote ‘cottage’ (in Mcwife it was a Scottish longhouse, this time a Pyrenean mill)… you get the picture?

And Mcwife opened with an omni prologe of CCTV footage.


So I edited out the prologue for Frenchman and tried to make the opening more ‘conventional’ for a SIM. I’m sitting here shaking my head at my own stupidity.

I have resolved, therefore, to be brave and do with this book what I originally intended to do. This will never be a contest winner. The H/h will not meet on the first page, it’s going to take us a while to work out who the H is and what’s his game. And when they do meet... he’s going to throw her off a train.


The one concession to conventionality I may have to make is in the character of Emily herself.

This is a book about fear, and control. It’s about accepting the things you can’t control, controlling fear, living with fear, acknowledging what it is you REALLY fear and finding the courage to love in spite of it. And Emily is a very scared young lady, bless her heart. She has good reason, but she’s a very damaged character, fighting for what she wants which is AT THE SAME TIME what she won’t admit she fears.

All of which leads her to fight her battles in some very dark and desperate ways.

And I’m not sure how well a reader will take a twenty-six year old heroine who hacks off her hair as an act of rebellion and defiance.

Her body is about all she has left to rebel with, so maybe it will work. I’m going to write it in, but accept that I may have to rip it out again.

I’ve written more independent, self-sufficient characters before. But these two hurt and they need each other.

Consider the architectural purity of an arch, a perfect arc made from blocks of dressed stone. While those two curving columns touch each other, lean on each other, share the weight and the burden, they become one of the strongest structures known to man. If they try to stand alone, they’re nothing but a pile of broken stones.


At 3:02 pm, Blogger Michelle Styles said...

Yes, but is the opening compelling? Does it answer who, what, where, how and above all does it plant questions in the reader's mind and compell her turn the page. That is really the only *rule* that counts

If you can do that, you are well on your way.

Of course they may ask you to change the opening once you get into revisions, but I am sure you will be able to...

Go for it.

At 3:24 pm, Anonymous Danica/Dream said...

Go McAnna!! Your description sounds compelling-I agree completely with Michelle, as long as you suck the reader in, you've won the battle. So far, it sounds awesome!

At 8:28 pm, Blogger Nell Dixon said...

You have to tell the story your way first then as Michelle says you can look at the elements which will make it stronger. It sounds great - you can do it!

At 5:59 am, Anonymous Kate Hardy said...

Rules are there to be broken. Go with your gut feel and get the emotion in there (and btw this doesn't sound like a category to me - this sounds mainstream and sounds v interesting. It's easier to fix a weak page than a blank one... plus I finally started reading Donald Maass this week and there's a LOT of food for thought in there. Think big (as in your dragon - I just read that post too and know exactly where you're coming from!).


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