Finding the beginning (Trish Doller)

With THE NEW NORMAL, there was never any question where the story would begin. I saw Travis coming down the concourse at the airport, his mother waiting for him at the end. In its earliest incarnations, he was in a wheelchair (but we didn't know it at the time) having lost a leg to a roadside bomb. In later, more permanent drafts, he was back on his feet, but his mother was always there with a sign and balloons and questions about whether he was hungry after his flight.

I've had a lot of trouble finding the opening scene for ALL THAT WAS LOST. And I don't know about you, but I find it difficult to move forward until I pin down the beginning. I can plot out scenes, but I can't really write them until I know what happens before.

I'm happy to say that I've found my starting point, but it leaves me wondering if anyone else has had this problem. Do you need to have a beginning before you can write the rest of your story? Or, like some writers I've seen, can you write out all your scenes and then put them all where they belong--like a puzzle? And what do you do if, like me, you get stuck on that opening scene?


  1. Beginnings and endings, my two favorite things to write. I can't imagine beginning a story without knowing either of those. It's the middle that's hard!!!

  2. Yeah, I need to find my way into a story. I need the line that makes me so excited I can write the next line, and the next, and the next. I often hit a couple of dead ends before finding the right opening.

  3. I have REALLY struggled with beginnings, so I feel your pain. With my second book I just kept revising the opening (cutting out A LOT of stuff) until I hit on the right one - but as that was historical fiction, where I started didn't necessarily affect the plot that followed. With straight fiction, I've had more trouble - I try to forge ahead, but it's hard to know where the character is mentally/emotionally when you're not sure exactly where the story starts. So, yes, I have no advice - but I feel your pain! :)Alisa


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