I've started a Pinterest Board for the series! Here it is if you want to check it out! Escape to Paradise
Now for this week's question: How do you know where to start a story and how do you go about starting it?
The Redemption: Storm at sea and shipwreck
The Reliance: Wife is blown up
The Restitution: Baby kidnapped
Falcon and the Sparrow: Heroine lands in England to be a spy for France
The Red Siren: Heroine, who is a pirate, captures Hero's ship
The Blue Enchantress: Heroine is about to be sold as a slave on the island of St. Kitts
The Raven Saint: Heroine is kidnapped by French pirate
Surrender the Heart: Heroine is knocked unconscious on hero's ship and it sets sail
Surrender the Night: Heroine is attacked by British Lieutenant and saved by hero
Surrender the Dawn: Heroine is attacked by ruffians, saved by town rogue
Veil of Pearls: Heroine escapes slavery on island of Barbados
So basically whatever your storyline or plot is, start it with something that will grab your readers attention. Of course you can't just have straight action without giving the reader enough information about the character(s) so they actually care whether they are kidnapped or attacked. This is where the hard work begins. There's a fine balance between great action and either internal dialogue or giving background information about your character. I can't say I always achieve it, but I sure try.
For example, in Veil of Pearls, why should we care whether Adalia escapes slavery? Who is she? By the end of chapter 1, this is what we know about her:
- Sir Walter Miles is a cruel owner who often drinks and who keeps her locked up in his house like a pet
- She is wearing shackles
- She is one-quarter black but doesn't look it. She hides from the townsfolk, worried the color of her skin will send her back to slavery
- She loved her mother. She has brought along her mother's pearls.
- She's also brought a Bible which alludes to her character
- She has no money and no idea how she will survive but she doesn't care. Freedom is worth it
Just remember, the more connected your reader feels with your character, the more sympathetic they feel, the more they will care what happens to her, and the more pages they will turn to find out! And what do readers sympathize with the most? I'd say it's a character who is down and out. Someone who has had a bad shake in life. Someone who has been mistreated, had dealt with injustice, someone who has been hurt, abused, used. And in particular, someone who is trying to rise above her problems, her struggles, to make a better life for herself! Who doesn't relate to that?
Can you think of a book that had such a great beginning, you couldn't put it down?