Writing

NaNoWriMo Day 4: Beginnings are Annoying

I am terrible at starting a story. I always have to rewrite the first few scenes, no matter what I do. I think Bittersweet had like eight different opening scenes before I finally settled on one I liked. Mad World had four different drafts. The Best Thing had a different opening scene — I am terrible at starting a story. It usually takes me a few chapters to get going, but every once in a while — I just…I have to stop.

I’ve written a little over 8k so far, 2000 more than I need for Day 4 and I mostly like it. But I feel like I’m missing something. Things are going the way I planned it, but I feel like it’s empty so far if that makes sense. Like I haven’t dug deep enough. I want Sonny/Emily to be a catalyst, a jumping off point, but to be honest — I think I’m wrong for that. Because it’s not the inciting incident for my story.

One of my favorite podcasts is How Story Works from Chipperish Media and Lani Diane Rich, and one of the most useful pieces of story advice I’ve ever come across is the seven anchor scenes. When I’m struggling with pacing and the movement of a story, I always stop and reassess — what are my anchor scenes? What is my central narrative conflict? That was the problem with Fool Me Twice. Despite having about 50k written for that, I hadn’t really sorted out what I was doing.

I know the Central Narrative Conflict for Broken Girl. But maybe my inciting incident isn’t the right one. I have to stop and think — what is my CNC and what really kicks it off? How can I get to that scene quick enough?

And the problem is that Sonny/Emily motivates Jason, it motivates the Liason connection, but it doesn’t do a lot to motivate Elizabeth. And this is her story. She is my protagonist, and Jason is a minor sub-protagonist/supporting character. Sonny/Emily is Jason’s inciting incident for the Manny Ruiz and Sam subplots. It has very little to do with Elizabeth.

My entire first chapter is about Sonny/Emily. It’s everything finding out the news, the blow-up it causes. It centers Sonny/Emily and Jason as the story, not Elizabeth.  And that’s not going to work.

It’s not a big deal — I can still use a lot of it, and it’s all staying in as part of the NaNo draft because all the words count. But I need to think about how to make Elizabeth the center of the story since she’s the protagonist.

Series Navigation<< NaNoWriMo 2019: Day 2: Tracing Broken Girl’s OriginsNaNoWriMo Day 5: The Reset >>

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