This week while I’ve been waiting for use of a printer so that I could get my hands on a hard copy of R&M #6 for the editing stage I made a start on Acer #4. It’s going well, as in the word count rises steadily and Acer’s story unfolds. But I have a nagging doubt about the way I’m going about writing this one. I don’t think it’s terrible or anything like that but I think it could be more … exciting.
I’m writing it, like I’ve written the other three in the series and all my books come to think of it, in a chronological sequencing of events ie Acer goes here, he does this, he goes there, that happens etc. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, I suppose, but…maybe I can best illustrate my point with examples of opening sequences from others’ work.
I’ve just finished another brilliant book. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. When I say brilliant I mean BRILLIANT! The opening of this book conforms with the thriller writing theory (although it’s not a thriller) of starting the opening chapter in the middle of an action sequence. If you’d like to see it for yourself use the ‘Look Inside’ feature of the link below.
Palahniuk then tells his story and the final scene of the book revisits the opening scene.
I’m a big fan of James Bond films, particularly the last three featuring Daniel Craig in the lead role. (I haven’t seen Spectre yet)
Each of the three opens with an action scene. Action, action, action. Grabbing the viewer by the hair and throwing them into the story. I can’t wait to see what they’ve done with Spectre.
Casino Royale – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OTSW4DRcx0
Quantum of Solace – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfYC_CBNtiM
Skyfall – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY15sNHsffM&index=2&list=PL5yTDAb_r6tgOFxsA_hfCtElBQCE1ciYQ
I’m toying with the idea of going back to start Acer #4 again. On the one hand with the word count at 15000 and knowing I’ll be ditching a lot of that for a different opening it’s not a good feeling. On the other hand if it makes the book a better read then how can I not?
In other news: I have a cover for R&M#7 now. I’m still in discussion with the cover-artist over R&M#6. I hope to be able to share those next week but wouldn’t feel right about it until I’ve paid him.
I did get to the printer by the way and the ink cartridge ran out after thirty pages. 😦
I agree with your idea of opening Acer 4 in a middle of a scene, that really pulls me into a story. Bernard Cornwall’s Sharpe books and Alexander Kent’s Bolitho series books are both masters of this ploy.
I bet the air was blue when your printer cartridge ran out after 30 pages, I find it annoying when mine runs out after a couple!
I hope editing R&M 6 is not to arduous.
I’ve enjoyed a couple of Bolitho books. I do like a bit of naval history fiction now and again. Patrick O’Brian is one of my favourite authors.
I’m definitely going to spice up the opening. And I think I have an idea of how.
The printer running out of ink was the silver lining of the cloud I’d blundered into: the printer is so old it took about five minutes to print one side of A4. I could handwrite the book quicker. I might have to buy a printer. Ouch!
I particularly like your Acer books, and this morning read the beginning of all three books, also the Fight Club beginning. As I don’t like to read when I’m writing as one can be influenced by the style of that writer, especially with the book you mentioned: it is very clipped and succinct: also there is the possibility of over-working something that’s not coming naturally. All of these issues I know you are aware of, so, if it comes organically then it will work. All I am getting at, is, that you feel comfortable with the end result knowing you did the right thing by not being influenced in any way.
All the best.
Thanks for your great comment and your words of encouragement for the Acer openings. I think I know what I’m going to do with it and it won’t hurt too much.
I’m interested in your take on not wanting to be influenced by a writer’s style when you’re writing. I think I might be a bit the opposite. I remember when I wrote the first B&C I immersed myself in a few Chandler books. I wanted to try to mimic his style. (That’s how the plan started out. It didn’t happen.) And when I write the next one I’ll probably read some Ross MacDonald’s I’ve got on my Kindle to get me in the mood, maybe a Travis McGee.
Totally understand about feeling comfortable with the result. When I looked back at the first 15000 words of this Acer I knew it was lacking something. I thought about leaving it because I hate doing a job twice but I won’t be happy with that. You can’t be a writer if you’re not prepared to do your absolute best for a project, even if it means taking a chainsaw to your baby. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)
On that note, my baby has just gone to sleep so back to the grindstone for a few hours.
Best wishes and thanks again.
I also love your Acer books so I’m excited you’re working on a new one!
I empathize about the possibility of losing word count but it will be worth it. I recently threw out over 10,000 words (the start of a sequel), and while I know it was the right move – it hurt, lol! It was my own fault, I changed the ending of the first book at the last minute. I shouldn’t have started the second until the first was set in stone. Sometimes the ideas keep rolling and I can’t stop them, other times they seem lodged in my brain and won’t move.
I really enjoy your blog, you make me laugh.
Thanks – Drea
ps – if you are stuck buying a printer: keep in mind the cost of ink and how quickly it dries out – sometimes in the long run it’s cheaper to buy a laser printer than an ink jet (assuming they have the same issues in Europe? I’m in Canada & the cost of the ink is almost as much as the printer). I’ve learned the hard way.
Thanks for getting in touch. Good to know that you’re enjoying the Acer books. Weird coincidence – Acer is in Canada for a visit in the new one. Just writing about it now. (I’m making use of this year’s visit to Vancouver. I loved BBC.)
Throwing out 10,000 words… it’s like losing a body part in the pain stakes. (Probably not. I can be a bit dramatic sometimes). My sincerest sympathies. But I bet what you replace it with will be better than what you had.
I’m always pleased to learn that the blog is being enjoyed. Thanks.
And thanks for your wise words on the printer problem. I’ll bear those in mind if I have to bite the bullet and purchase one. Groan!
Best wishes and best of luck with your writing. All writers need some luck. 🙂