Posted by: Casey Lybrand | June 16, 2010

Where does the story begin?

So I’m writing. I’m close to 40,000 words total at this point, and I’m determined to break 50,000 before the week is through. That will be about half-way through my projected word count for the first draft. [1]

Today I’ve gone back to chapter 8-ish [2] to add a scene I skipped writing before. [3] So this is about 26,000 words into the story, though it will be closer to the 35,000 mark once I add in other missing scenes. It is the middle of Act Three out of five.

And I have this . . . thought. Okay? A thought. And the thought is this:

What if this is where my story begins?





So, just keep writing?

Well, yes. I’m going to write it all out — all of it, missing scenes, everything — and sort it out later. Worst case scenario: really coherent immediate backstory. That’s not so bad. [4]

1: My first draft suffers from adjectivitus: too much tell and not enough show. It also lacks sufficient description of characters and locations. (See, I know what it all looks like, and at the moment I’m busy writing all the things I don’t yet know about the story.) So I figure when I cut out all the first-draft-bloat, but also add in show-not-tell (in place of a quick adjective or adverb) AND write the location descriptions, my word count after revision will balance out to about the same place as the first draft: 100,000. Could be wrong. We’ll have to see how it goes.

2: Chapter numbers are provisional. My WIP is very much a work-in-progress!

3: No, I am not writing it in order. I don’t think I could. It all bounces around in my head, and different scenes push their way to the front at different times. My outline is helping keep it all in order, so I can write it as it flows.

4: Whew!


  1. I think in most cases the best response is keep writing.

  2. Yes! Nothing to work with if it’s not written in the first place.

  3. I always use the first draft as an everything goes. I know I’ll cut the beginning and move things about and characters will come and go, but I also know it is easier to do all of this once I have a completed first draft to work with.
    Best of luck.

  4. That’s what the first draft is for; keep writing and writing until it’s all out there on the paper instead of lucked inside your head. The story line and plot can be worked on and improved latter so no worries ;)

  5. Cassandra and Lua,

    Thank you so much for the encouragement!

    I have read over and over that beginnings get cut. It’s just that I was expecting to cut chapter 1, or maybe 1-3, not chapters 1-7!

    And actually, having looked over the draft again, I now think chapter 8 is *not* the beginning. The only thing I’m confident of at this point is that I won’t know the beginning until the whole draft is written out.

    I know the answer is to keep writing (I was just a bit startled at what I thought I was seeing in the draft yesterday!), so that’s what I’m going to do: everything in now, editing later.

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