I was partaking in a critique group this Saturday with three other writers and the topic of where to begin your manuscript came up. They are reviewing a new Dystopian I am working on and asked why I started the book where I did, why not start the story right before the cataclysmic event to give the reader a better feel for exactly what happened. My answer:
Start your character's journey as close to the end as possible!
Sounds weird, I know. You are probably wondering how I get all the necessary events and character struggles in if I am purposefully condensing my time frame. Doesn’t that cataclysmic event define my charters actions; and, if so, how can I create a dynamic character if I start my manuscript after that poignant event? Simple. I add all that in over the course of 72,000 words.
Well placed back-story in the form of memories, dialogue, and internal reflection all play a part. Rather then what I fondly refer to as “an introductory chapter of stage setting,” toss me in to the thick of it, let me connect with your character’s raw emotion before you explain him or her away.