editing / writers resources / writing

I’m Stuck on the First Paragraph

I’ve been stuck on line one all week. I open my document (in my case, an Excel spreadsheet), read the first paragraph, and ponder. While I’m awaiting inspiration, I read my email, work on my writer’s group submittal, check the TV schedule. All the while trying to get in touch with my inner Twain.

It’s like waiting for Godot at some bus stop. I’ve started wondering if inspiration will ever arrive.

I thought my opening paragraph sounded good until I paid attention to it. Now, it sounds boring, like the type no one will read past. Conventional wisdom says cut out the first page/couple pages and start the book at that new point, in the middle of the action. Sure, you haven’t introduced characters or settings, but that can be done later.

So they say.

OK. I did that and, maybe it does sound better. Now I’m starting at a high-action point, a revelation that stuns everyone although it’s out of the blue without any of the background contained in the first several paragraphs.

Maybe that’s OK.

How do you-all figure out the opening to a book?

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13 thoughts on “I’m Stuck on the First Paragraph

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention I’m Stuck on the First Paragraph « Word Dreams… -- Topsy.com

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  3. I write my official first paragraph until a solid six months into my book, on the way home from vacation, on a plane no less. So don’t sweat it, your muse’ll find you.

  4. This was my first go at the opening. A failed, go, but there we are. I will put it back on the back burner for the moment and concentrate on a few other parts of my rough.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. You sound like you are out of your flow / zone. I could go all zen on you, but first I would say, have you changed your environment?

    If your life was a snow globe, what would you need to do to shake it up??

    Something out of the normal – move your desk to another wall, change your chair, try working at different times of the day (first thing in the morning, last thing at night)

    For me, this is usually a sign I haven’t done something for myself in a while.

    So buy new your clothes, have a coffee somewhere different, stop for half an hour and watch the people around you, try something for lunch you have never eaten before, go for a massage…

    Good luck!

    • Hey, christian, that makes sense to me. I haven’t people watched for a while. When I do, I’m amazed at the different worlds people inhabit from mine. Thanks for the reminder. The weekend’s coming. I’m going to go somewhere different (I’d love it to be Australia, but maybe next time).

  6. I’ve often planned out the whole story before a first paragraph or open sentence occurs to me.
    As you said, it should be something that the reader can not only get past, but it should hook then and pull them into the flow of the story, like a big fish dragging an angler into a fast river.
    Don’t fret over one para or sentence. Get on with the happy process of writing and one day (or middle of the night) you’ll get your Eureka moment.
    It all depends on what you want to say to the reader at the beginning.
    Inrigue? Adventure?

  7. I really need help im a first time writter snd have never written anything before. Im reallly struggling with introducing the main chracater, im 100% sure the words will start flowing once im past maybe the first couple of pages, can anyone help?

    • There are some great suggestions in this comment list. You might also check out several of my articles and thoughts on ‘Characters’ here–http://worddreams.wordpress.com/category/characters/

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