First Chapters and Opening Scenes

I’m a linear writer. In my mind the story is a movie of sorts. It plays in order, and I write in order. Very occasionally I will skip a scene because I’m not in the mood to write a fight scene or a first kiss. Exactly one time I broke from this mold and wrote the final scene of a book after I wrote the opening scenes and long before I wrote any of the middle.

In addition to being a linear writer I can also be a verbose writer. In my rough draft I let myself have as many info dumps as I want. Often it’s information I need as the writer of the story, but not information a reader needs for the story. Getting so many extra facts and tidbits helps me find my way through the beginning of a longer piece. I get to know my characters better, and I can start feeling out the tone of the book.

What does being a linear and verbose writer have to do with the opening scene and first chapters? It turns out that being a linear and verbose writer means my early chapters are slow, over written, and often cumbersome. Sometimes I know exactly what an opening scene is going to be and it won’t change regardless of the other changes in the story. I just know this is the right scene. My MG Sci Fi falls into that category. The first chapter is what bonds the two main characters together. Their first adventure starts on the first page and ends with them having a new found friendship. The first draft of that first adventure was also started about two times as long as it needed to be.

In another case I have a story where I need to condense four chapters into at most two. I know the main points I need to cover, but I have definitely taken the long road to cover them. The opening scene of this project isn’t as clear in my mind. In fact it will probably move by a little more than a chapter. The few pieces of important information before that cut off can be covered another way. I guess I am just a slow to start writer and will have to take extra care when editing the early chapters and opening scenes of my work.

Are you a slow to start writer? Do you often need to move your opening scene by a chapter or more?


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