Does a hard and fast rule exist that states that a novelist must begin writing at the beginning of his or her novel? Actually (a surprise to many), there is not. No such rule exists.
A rule that would supersede such a rule is the rule that any barrier or handicap that prevents you from beginning your novel must be overcome. Now that rule is hard and fast. In fact it should be engraved in marble!
Here it is again in BOLD!
Any barrier or handicap that prevents you from beginning your novel must be overcome!
Am I saying that a strong beginning (first sentence, first paragraph, first page, first chapter) is not important? Absolute it is important. But what if you have been casting about for weeks and it’s just not coming? That means all of the rest of your novel is just sitting there in the corridors of your mind waiting. And waiting.
Stop a minute and consider. What is coming to you? What scene can you see clearly in your mind? What voices do you hear? The best thing to do is start at any point you feel capable of writing at this very moment in time.
Once you begin, your good old reliable subconscious mind will happily kick in and ideas will begin to flow. Yes, even ideas for that great first chapter.
As long as you use “I don’t know where to start…” as an excuse, the excuse will continue to rule your writing life. Don’t allow that to happen!
Here’s the most interesting point about all of this. Even the most experienced of writers will tell you that their seemingly perfect first chapter often wound up in the rubbish pile before the novel was ever completed. Why? Because it’s the completed novel that determines the perfection of Chapter One.
Okay, there you go. Another excuse hits the dust! Time to write!
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