My Greatest Weakness Happens to Be the Worst Writing Flaw

I have the worst possible weakness for a writer. I have a hard time with beginnings. It’s not writer’s block. In fact, I have no problems launching any new endeavor ___ whether it is a short story, blog or a chapter in a novel. I usually know exactly what needs to happen to carry the plot forward, I am solidly grounded in my character’s point of view, and as you turn the last page there will be a nice tidy arc all present and accounted for. This is true for short stories, chapters and novels. Endings are my forte.
The issue is that my opening paragraphs are, well, lame. I am not exaggerating when I say I have rewritten the opening chapters of novels hundreds of times and it still isn’t stellar. Since the publishing world is what it is and agents and editors only want to see the first few pages of a manuscript, I’m always getting a late start out of the gate. I don’t blame these discerning readers. When a potential customer is leafing through the book, they will do the same thing. These would-be book purchasers scan the first few paragraphs and if they like what they see, they are more likely to travel to the cash register or click the “buy” button on their computer.
No one wants to flip to the end of the novel and have the ending ruined. But how many times have you read a book only to see the conclusion (if there even is one) meander into the ozone? I despise lousy endings and I resent that writer’s get away with it because endings aren’t held to the same standards as beginnings. If I were an agent, my submission process would require the author to provide both the opening pages and the last page. True, you might not be able to tell if the final scene will give you warm and fuzzy satisfaction, but I bet you could get a better idea if the writer is made of the right stuff. You’d also circumvent a lot of “looky-loo” submissions from people who haven’t yet finished their book and are prematurely shopping their novel.

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One Response to My Greatest Weakness Happens to Be the Worst Writing Flaw

  1. chs says:

    Great post, Jill. You’re not alone in finding openings difficult. I have the worst time with that. And I suspect that a great many others will sympathize as well.

    I love your idea about the last page. Hee.

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