Beginnings are always slow for me

I’ve started work on Jazzi and Ansel 10. And, as usual, the first chapters of a book are slow-going for me. I write the first chapter, and then I fuss with it. I know some writers just throw down words and don’t do rewrites until they’ve finished a book. But I can’t do that. The beginning has to “feel” right before I can move forward. And even though I’ve made character wheels and charts, I still don’t truly know new characters, so I can’t decide for sure what they’ll do in beginning scenes. And there’s always something that crops up that I haven’t thought through yet. So I write a scene, and then I rewrite it and fuss with it.

My words don’t flow. They lurch through sentences and paragraphs. Did I give out enough information to hold a reader’s interest, or did I give out too much too soon? It’s a precarious balancing act, and I’m never sure if I’m getting it right. But I’ve written four chapters now, and I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable.

In book 9, I tried to pick up the pace of the story, and I got mostly good feedback on that. But one faithful reader felt like I jumped into the murder too soon before I’d set the scene and settled the characters in place. Setting is a big thing in cozies. So are minor characters. In this book, I introduce the murder in the first chapter again, but hopefully, the characters come alive before that happens. And there are plenty of homey moments scattered between clues and investigations. Most of my friends who are writers start their books off with a bang, introducing the book’s big question as soon as possible. But cozies aren’t like that. I’ve read some that don’t have a murder until quite a few chapters into the story. In book 10, though, I hope I’m starting with a good hook and tease the reader with why Jerod leaves the hospital before he gets to see Jazzi and Ansel’s new baby. He’d never do that unless something really important pulled him away.

I’m hoping to write chapter five tomorrow. I usually dedicate the first quarter of a book to its set-up, so there won’t be any speed writing for a while yet. I’ll scratch my head a lot, question myself even more. It will be touch and go, but each chapter puts me on firmer ground. And then, I’ll feel more comfortable for a while. Until I hit the middle of the middle–the beginning of the third quarter of the book. That always slows me down again, but if writing a book was easy, it might not be as much fun.

Good luck with whatever you’re working on now. And HAPPY NEW YEAR to all. Hoping 2023 is better than 2022 for everyone.

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