Originally posted on September 18, 2014
The very first sentence of any book has to be meaningful. It doesn’t have to be a hook per se, or even a quotable for the ages, but it has to be something, not just anything. As a writer I worry about this, and I should worry.
It should be obvious that the beginning harbors an essence that must resonate throughout the rest of the story; it may seem diffuse at first, even obtuse to the point of cliché, but it is there, and it must bloom into its own as the voyage progresses.
Not only that, but it should also worry writers like me that their first sentence could be the tiny perturbation that unleashes an irrevocable—and uncontrollable—sequence of events; wildly diverging trajectories pushing the line between deterministic chaos and pure randomness, in the tapestry of the nonlinear system that is your story. How can you tell that your story wasn’t doomed since that very first sentence? Or your first paragraph? Going back and correcting a typo is one thing, but un-flapping the little wings that started that hurricane is not gonna help.
The whole exercise is abstruse by nature. And perhaps we creators are more blind to the complex dynamics than anyone else, due to our extreme closeness to the very system we must wrangle. But wrangle we must. And it’s quite a beast.
So yeah, extreme sensitivity to initial conditions should be a concern. Thusly, beginnings should be a foremost concern as well, whether in a novel, or a blog, or a new life.
So here’s hoping this beginning is of the “not-false” variety.
Starting the way I am is a challenge that I set upon myself. Simply because I know there’s a way to subvert the “wrong” and succeed. Oh I’m sorry, did I push down your little wall of expectations and conventions? Too bad.
Facing the challenge and fighting your way through it is very much the point. THAT is how you make something new and worthwhile nowadays.
But hey, perhaps I’ll cut the first paragraph when I submit it to whomever. I could even cut the entire first chapter from my submission if I feel like it. But that’s beside the point. The point being that I dare to start like this, and I’m ready to fight you and your beloved “conventions” when I know I’m in a position where I know I’ll utterly crush them.
“Starting with a dream is one of the most cliché ways to begin your story.” Oh, oh if you could hear yourselves! If you could just listen to the words you’re saying, and the deep, deep deceit they are soaking in!
How else, how else are you supposed to begin YOUR story if not with a dream!