As November and NaNoWriMo creeps closer I am excited and terrified. There is nothing like the beginning of a novel. Or a short story. Or a poem. Or a relationship. To me, often writing a novel is like a relationship. Sometimes I get into it knowing where I want to end up. Sometimes I think it’s just going to be a fun romp and we’ll see if it goes someplace real or fizzles out. Sometimes I go in thinking I know where it’s going and it ends up fizzling out. Sometimes I end up taking an unexpected left-turn or three and before I know it I’m looking at something entirely different and something so much better than I ever expected.
That is why the beginning might be my favorite part of a novel. That first one-thousand words which set everything else up. Many of my novels get written and re-written in that first one-to-three thousand words more than any other section of the novel. I want to introduce the character. I want to see and feel this world. I want the reader to understand the level of commitment this novel expects. But not to scare them off with the skeletons in the closet.
After the first one thousand words, it gets easier. Usually the worst of the new-relationship fears are simmering down. As long as I don’t do something astronomically stupid, we keep moving through the next fifty to a hundred thousand words. We slowly delve into the deeper mysteries together. We uncover those painful truths. We find ourselves in the throes of conflict but we stick it out! We climax together and then settle in to cuddle up with happy memories of that world and the characters.
But nothing is more terrifying or more exciting than the blank page waiting for that first thousand words. Those words which set the course of all the rest. Yeah, I’m kind of a romantic that way.