I typed THE END twice yesterday: once on the novel A Raging Madness and once on the short story for my February newsletter. I hope today to finish the slightly longer short story I’m writing as a party prize, but meanwhile, I’ve edited the short story and written an entirely new beginning.
Novels show a journey: the beginning and the end might mirror one another, but they show the distance travelled. In short stories, we see a mere glimpse of the journey, and the focus is on one transformative moment for the main character. Since I mostly write romance, the focus is usually on making the relationship, and therefore the love, believable. So my beginning needs to kick us into the story quickly, and my end needs to tie the last knot neatly, preferably linking back to the beginning.
And the original beginning of ‘A souvenir from Scotland‘ just didn’t work.
This week, I’m inviting you to share a few paragraphs of beginning from your work in progress (novel, novella, or short story). The beginning of the work, if you will, or the beginning of a chapter if you prefer.
Here’s mine. (If you’d like to know what happens next, the full story will be a gift in my February newsletter):
York, 23 December 1815
Her brother was home. Megan Walsh almost rushed straight out into the evening air when her husband told her he had passed Ned’s place and seen lights on the floor that Ned rented, but Thomas persuaded her to wait for morning, and she managed it, just, though she read the cryptic note Ned had sent another twenty times before at last it was a sufficiently civilised hour to go calling.
Yes, the landlady agreed, Mr Broderick was home, and Mrs Walsh would never guess…
But Megan hadn’t waited, hurrying up the stairs to knock on Ned’s door. He opened it himself, and she threw herself on him.
“Ned! I was so worried when you were a fortnight overdue and then I got your note. What a note, Ned. ‘On my way home. I have a surprise for you; something I found in Scotland. You told me I needed one, and you were right.’ I have racked my brains, Ned, and I cannot think what you mean.”
Ned took her arm, and led her through into the sitting room, and Thomas trailed behind. But they both stopped short when they found it was already occupied.
A small dark-haired woman, neatly dressed in a slightly old-fashioned gown, sat sipping tea by the fire, and she stood when they entered, looking wary.
“Ariadne, may I present my dear sister and her husband, Mr and Mrs Thomas Walsh? Megan, Thomas, please meet Mrs Broderick. Megan, I took your advice and got myself a wife.”
Ned looked so proud, and the woman so nervous, that Megan swallowed the sharply worded comment that came first to her tongue and instead just said, “How?”