In The Pursuit of Perfection

I wasn’t sure what to blog about this morning until I read Tawna Fenske’s post about being a picky word diva.

We all know there’s no such thing as perfection, but that doesn’t stop us from purusing it. Especially as a writer. Some of us torment ourselves over word choice, dialogue tags, character names, titles (hello!), and every other little thing that goes into making a story. But in the end, nothing we do will reach perfection, and why should it?

I’m fighting this problem right now with the second book in my Olympus, Inc. series. I’ve been working on this book since November and I don’t like the way it’s going. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have some brilliant (or at least I think they’re brilliant) passages and scenes that are right on the money. But the beginning is killing me. Seriously. It’s murdering me!

I’ve written and re-written the opening of this story so many times I’ve lost count. One of the first things we learn as writers, is that your opening had better be good. There are some readers (Hi, Mom), who pick up a book at the store and read the first page. If it isn’t good or eye-catching, the book goes back on the shelf. And those are the people I want to catch. I want the opening scene of my book to be either so funny, or shocking, or intense that they simply have to turn that page and hopefully bring it to the counter and buy it.

That’s what I strive for, what every writer strives for. In a way, it’s like a first date. You dress nice, fix your make-up just so, fluff up the girls, and head out because that first impression is the most important. Er, I’m not suggesting that you want your date to buy you, but you get the idea.

So when do you know your scene is “perfect”? Eh, I’m not sure to be honest. I suppose it’s a gut feeling. In Immortal Danger (formerly known as Tie Him Up), the opening scene starts in a bathroom with the heroine realizing there’s no toilet paper in her stall. Not the most delicate of openings, but it helps to display her personality and how she reacts to the most mundane problems we all face. I wrote that opening and never changed it because it worked and I knew it worked.

The same can’t be said for book 2. I’ve struggled with the opening, but each time I get a little closer to what I want. I’ve changed scenarios, atmospheric tones, and even POVs to get where I want the story to be. It’s not a science, at least it isn’t for me, but it’s vital to the rest of the book. If you start out strong, you’ll finish strong. At least we hope we will.

Writers – What’s the hardest part of the book for you to write? Have you revised portions of your book over and over again until you hit the right tone?

Readers – Do you push through a book with a slow start? Or do you drop it like a hot potato when the beginning is lackluster?


Filed under Writing

11 responses to “In The Pursuit of Perfection

  1. So, Tie Him Up has a new name? I like it.

    As to perfect openings, I learned a hard lesson recently when I changed a book for an editor and basically edited the hook out of my story. When she said I had no hook, I wanted to tell her it was her fault but didn’t- I have gone back to the old opening now.

    • That’s another thing I worry about: changing to suit one person’s needs and somehow messing up the best part of the story. I’m glad you’re going back to the old opening. There was something there that caught her eye and hopefully it’ll catch someone else’s!

      Yup, Tie Him Up has a new name. Like Prince, but easier to pronounce.

  2. The middle is the hardest for me, I think. It is a sense, though, isn’t it? Like, “Okay, something’s just not flowing.” I usually get that somewhere in the middle.

    Sometimes it helps to have someone look at your work whose never seen it before…that might the be edge you’re looking for in your beginning. A fresh pair of eyes might see something or ask something that puts you on a new thought pattern to get you jump started again.

    That’s helped me before, too. 🙂

    I love beginnings. They’re so much fun.

  3. Avril Ashton

    I love a great opening, something that literally yanks me into the story. I love the opening of Immortal Danger?? Too funny, yet we immediately know who she is.


  4. Avril Ashton

    Hit publish before I finished :)) the middle gives the most trouble.


    • Thanks, Avril, I loved Immortal Danger’s beginning as well. It’ll just be finding the perfect beginning for the next story. And it doesn’t seem like the middle gives you problems. Your stories flow so well!

  5. I hate to type it, but I drop it like a hot potato if I’m not grabbed in the first twenty pages:((( My time is tooooooo precious! YOu’ll get it!! I’m sure you will.

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