I might call this post Begin Again. I have a manuscript that I refuse to believe deserves to be tucked into a bottom drawer. Instead, I'm going to apply all I've learned since I put it away last year and begin again.
Some helpful advice I received most recently came from the SCBWI Western Maryland event I blogged about earlier. Compiled from my notes taken at editor Martha Mihalick's workshop "The Very Beginning: Hook a Reader (and an Editor)":
Beginnings should show something of what the book is about, something to connect to and make you want to read more. A good beginning should set everything up, create expectations. But a writer needs to hold back enough to make a reader keep turning. A good beginning is a doorway. Who, what, where -- set it up to make a reader want to open the door and walk through. It should embody the whole story without telling what the story is.
In a good beginning- make that a great beginning- we are being told a story no one else can tell. Here's where that all-important "voice" comes in. If the voice is very assured, we don't need to understand everything completely in the beginning. Begin with authority.
Has the writer begun in the right place? Obviously, we know not to start with backstory in kids' books. But know what makes your story interesting and make sure that's the exact starting point.
Ground the reader. Don't over explain, leave something to intrigue. Create expectations. Go beneath the surface. Be specific. Tell your story.
So, thanks Martha. I'm about to begin again at a more interesting place in my story. And I'll cross my fingers that I've found the doorway, that perfect point of connection.