The Menacing Blank Page

A friend recently asked me how one starts writing a book.  I gave the obvious reply, “With a blank page!”  It wasn’t the anticipated—or probably desired—answer, but it sufficed for the moment.

That made me start thinking, though, about all the prep work that goes into a story’s first page.  Besides having an idea of the basic framework and the aspects above of names and settings, there are a lot of split decisions a writer makes.  For starters, one decides on the era it takes place in and who’s point of view to use.  In the first two novels I penned, I employed a first-person perspective but found myself unsatisfied with the results.  It can be constricting and actually isn’t favored by some publishers, but it can be right for certain genres.

Being that it was my first mystery, I had many uncertainties when starting Husband in Hiding.  I didn’t know if I should give readers a sneak peek into the antagonists’ plot, as some do, or if I should rely solely on the detectives’ standpoint.  Ultimately, I backtracked to before the criminals’ exploits begin to give readers a feel of where Minka and Wes are currently in their life.

Before that even, I used a prologue to shed light on the couple’s unique history, which was one of my favorite parts to compose.  I’ve done similarly in the sequels that follow, detailing an important moment in Minka’s life that relates to the rest of the narrative.

However an author goes into “Page One”, it should reveal his/her writing style and, most importantly, hook readers into wanting to know more about the characters.  Most times, the biggest obstacle is tackling that blank page.  If that’s true in your case, remember this: It’s never blank for long!

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