Friday, November 7, 2008

Where's The Action?

"Begin at the beginning, never earlier." -- William G. Tapply in The Elements of Mystery Fiction.
Another way to think of this is to start a story in the middle of the action -- in media res, as they say in Latin. I reviewed a short story yesterday that began with four paragraphs of backstory. I forced myself to keep reading to the scene where the tale should have begun.

Sometimes I know where to begin a story, other times I only think I know. I don’t worry about it in my first draft. I get the idea down and then decided.

A mystery short story I’m working on originally started in the detective’s office during the first meeting with her client. Later, I moved the opening to their second meeting at the client’s office. The hook was better, the story flow improved, and I realized that some of the backstory in the first draft didn’t add anything to the plot. I feel good about the story and am confident an editor will accept it for publication.

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