Starting on WIP Wednesday

Where is the beginning? Lewis Carroll had his king advise “Begin at the beginning, and go on till you get to the end, then stop.” As a storyteller, Carroll knew what hard advice that is to follow, for a story, a chapter, or even a letter.

Where to begin? I’ve heard advice to start anywhere, and find the beginning later. I’ve even started, I thought, way too early and written my way to the beginning. But for the most part, I can’t really get going on a story till the start feels right. 

Show me the start of your story or one of your chapters. I’m showing you the beginning of a story I’m writing for my newsletter subscribers. It’ll go out with the newsletter in July.

Dickon watched his wife clambering around the rigging, torn between demanding that she descend to the safety of the deck, and continuing to enjoy the sight from the shadows of the accessway.

It weighted the scales that, if she knew he was aboard, he’d lose the advantage of surprise and possible also his wife.  He needed to keep his identity secret until they were far enough from land that she couldn’t run again.

If he was to save his marriage—and, after talking to the enquiry agent, he half thought it might be desirable—he must first talk to his runaway bride.

She swung with confidence from rope to rope, her form masked but not obscured by the shapeless canvas trousers and smock she wore. Surely no one on the ship thought the Captain’s second mate was a man? 

She’d put on weight in the six months since he last saw her, and lost the haunted, harried look that had set his teeth on edge. Until he learned the reason for it on the night he tried to bed her, five days into their marriage. The night before she ran away.



6 thoughts on “Starting on WIP Wednesday

  1. OK then, here’s the opening paragraphs to “Lord of Disorder”. I’m not terribly pleased with them, and am wondering whether to open with this scene at all, but for what it’s worth, here they are.


    ‘My most sincere thanks, Lord Chatham, for your permission. Harriot and I are most grateful for all you have done.’

    John’s responding smile was as tight as Colonel Pringle’s pale blue eyes were cold. The other man’s familiar use of Harriot’s name provoked an instinctive stab of annoyance, even though John had just seen the couple united in marriage, in his own drawing-room, no less; he had even signed the register as witness. He remained convinced Pringle was an Irish upstart with one eye on Harriot’s fortune and the other on her person, but this was not the time to dwell on past disagreements. Today was his niece’s wedding day, and to judge from the way she threw her arms around John in a flurry of silk and cinnamon scent, it was also the happiest day of her life. ‘Oh Uncle Chatham!’

    His arms tightened around her. She was only nineteen; he had expected her to be in his house for at least two years more. He had always thought himself beyond the charms of children, but he found himself knowing he would miss her youth and laughter. ‘My dear Mrs Pringle.’

    Harriot’s pale face flushed at the use of her new name. She glanced at her husband from beneath her eyelashes and released a girlish giggle. Even though he had spent the last few weeks worrying he had been wrong to relent in his opposition to the match, John immediately knew with every fibre of his being that he had made the right decision.

  2. “If the new earl doesn’t arrive soon, I shall throttle him!”
    Lily, Lady Langley paced up and down in the conservatory behind Langley Abbey, alternately staring outward into the gloomy day and then inward at the sickly-looking plants arranged around her path.
    “You can hardly throttle him if he hasn’t arrived, dear,” said the elder of her two companions, not taking her eyes off the embroidery she was attempting. “In any case, we need him alive, so you may not throttle him.”

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