Beginnings terrify me, particularly when my brain is a big mess as far as The Big N is concerned. See, I don't normally begin with big messes. I usually start with only a title and two characters and a theme that I want to explore. Then I dive in and write. More characters come, conflict pops up everywhere, and subplots naturally unfold.
That's all fine and good, except I've worked on The Big N over seven times in the last year, always to be sidetracked by a financial emergency. So I have seven starts and seven different stories.
I deleted them all today, except one. Over 10,000 words I deleted or turned into a future story idea. That's always painful, because I'm not big on deleting. I used to cringe and think, "I just deleted $300!!!" That's why I write bare-bones and fill in. Training.
But I don't have the heart of the story yet, and that means I'm wandering around my character's lives, peeking into their subconscious motivations, and trying to find my story.
I hate that.
Sure, it's fun, but I never feel like I'm accomplishing anything unless I'm deep in the story, living it and writing it. I always try to get deep in the story before I actually write it, so I can dive right in. I neglected to finish thinking before I started The Big N.
Anyway, I was considering a reader email the other day, and something she said provoked me to consider the themes of a novella I'd written a few years ago. I can't remember much about the novella, but she was disappointed with the climax and the resolution.
I can't see how it could have been any other way, considering my themes. I do think it's possible that I could've sold my themes more clearly at the end. I don't know, though, because I barely remember it and I don't have the time to go back and re-read it.
But I'd forgotten one important thing: readers of erotica really feel they're reading romance. In this one story, I'd written more of an erotic SF than an erotic romance.
Anyway, it got me thinking about theme, and how one needs to make sure throughout, and at the end, that one has "sold" and "proven" the theme without betraying the genre.
I generally choose my ideas by my heart, as in, I know I'm hitting on something when my heart skips a beat. My heart is skipping a beat at all the wrong things in The Big N! It's not skipping a beat where I'd planned!
Oh, I hate that. (More research.)
And I love that. (Exhilarating.)
Beginnings have too much uncertainty to make me feel comfortable. I think that's why I drive through a story so fast: I need to wrap everything up and find out how it ends, just as much as the reader does.
What are your beginnings like? I love hearing about other writers' processes.