I'm seeing several query submissions where the story doesn't start in the right place. The query shows the inciting event - but the author is starting the pages after the inciting event has already happened.
As readers, we lose creating a connection to your main character (MC) when you start with the inciting event rather than just before it. We don't get the chance to learn a little about the MC while they're humming along in life prior to the inciting event. We don't know what it is they want out of life, what their fear, flaw, or misbelief is, or what they're struggling with internally or externally. We don't know what's important to them or what they love or hate.
Knowing your main character and how they live in their normal world will help readers connect emotionally to them so that when the inciting event occurs, we really feel for your MC and want to follow along to see how they're going to handle this terrible thing that has just happened to them.
If you're starting with the inciting event on the first page (or the first couple of pages), you'll want to back up and show the MC in their normal world. Give readers a small look into what their life is normally like so that when the inciting event happens, readers can see how they handle it, what decisions they make, and how this new world they've just been thrust into will change them and their lives as the story progresses.
Of course, there are always exceptions, but for the most part, if you want readers to be able to really connect with your main character and your story, start just before the inciting event and show us your character in their normal world before everything goes to hell.
Let me give an example (that I just made up off the top of my head) to help illustrate what I mean.
Let's say our main character is named Bennie. He's had a terrible string of bad luck searching for a job. He needs a job because his parents are going to kick him out because they're selling their house and moving to Hawaii. He has bills to pay (car, insurance, student loans, etc.). Bennie also has this big dream - he wants to save enough money to buy an RV and travel the U.S. to do nature photography, one day he'd like to be able to live on the income he makes from his photos.
Well Bennie's been to seventy-two job interviews over the past three months and still hasn't gotten a job offer (might have something to do with the fact that Bennie doesn't believe in himself and subconsciously sabotages the interviews). Then, suddenly, a month after his parents have sold their house and moved (and Bennie has been living in his car) he gets a job offer.
If you were to start your story with Bennie getting the job offer, readers miss out on all the important information about Bennie, about his struggles and dreams, his flaw (not believing in himself). We don't get to experience all those emotions he's going through as he gets rejection after rejection. We don't get to see how he's sabotaging himself, and we don't get to experience what Bennie experiences when he finally gets a job offer. We wouldn't root for him as hard as we would if we knew everything that was happening in his life prior to finally getting the job.
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