Slow start.

by Betty K
(Vancouver, Canada)

Question: I'm writing a sequel to a family saga. I think the plot is interesting but the real action doesn't get going until Part 2. Part 1 outlines several of the problems, answers some of the small ones, and sets the stage by inserting back story every now and then, But as I say, there is no real action. It is 28 pages and mostly character-driven.


I'm sure people who read the first book will like it, but I'm not sure about new readers.

The only alternative would be start in "medias res" and then go back and tell Part 1, but that might be deadly.

Answer: Are you sure you can't open with an event (an irreversible and significant change) of some kind? Even if you can't start with the inciting incident of the main plot, can you lead with an important event that begins the main character's journey, or that introduces the impact character?

You're right, 28 pages is a lot of prose for a reader (or today's impatient editors) to wade through before something interesting happens, even if the voice is intriguing.

You say the first part introduces several problems. What about showing these problems in action, through events that can drive the story forward? (E.g. "the night X happened," "the incident that made me Y" or "the decision that changed everything"?)

In other words, instead of describing someone's drinking problem (for example), show the night he came home drunk and accidentally killed the family dog, or embarrassed his kids at a parent/teacher meeting - and how this set the stage for later events.

Comments for Slow start.

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Apr 24, 2012
Thanks for excellent reply
by: Betty K

Yes. Thanks again for coming up with some very good solutions. I've already got an idea. Very helpful.

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