One of the hardest lessons for me to learn as a writer was that every scene has to do more than one thing. I happen to like old fashioned stories that meander along establishing character and place before diving into “the story.”
But like everything else around us, pacing is faster these days. Here’s how David Farland says it:
A real first scene will…create a setting, develop a conflict, and introduce characters at the same time. It will simultaneously set a tone for the novel and drive the story forward toward its inciting incident.
And people wonder why we get writer’s block. That’s a lot to expect from the beginning of a book!
I’m rewriting the first scene in a new novel and trying to make sure it does all of these things. Remembering that there’s a rewrite coming helps me get past the fear of getting everything right. It doesn’t have to all be there on the first draft. Or the second. But before it goes out, that first chapter needs to shine or agents/editors/readers won’t keep reading.
What important lessons have you learned as a writer?