Earlier I wrote about my challenges in my approach to wring my second novel and my adoption of a new method for creating the third. Today I finished the first scene of Leaving Darkness, my second working title for this project. “Let Me Help” was the first, but that seemed too, uh, “blah.” There is still plenty of time to land on the final title, but I’ll return to this in a bit, as the title itself holds more significance than I had realized before.
The beginning is an important part of a novel – maybe the most critical. The challenge is in creating the hook by teasing the story in a few sentences to engage the reader to want to read more. While there likely have been studies performed to validate my theory, I suspect that many times novels are not read past the first chapter or even scene, having not proved to the reader why they should invest their precious time in assimilating several tens of thousands of words more.
My first draft beginning is as follows:
Lowell Ferguson sat in the cab of the Kenworth assigned by the company, eyes fixated on the flier that claimed the unattainable.
This had been an especially difficult week in the darkness. How he came into possession of the piece of paper he cradled in his slightly trembling hands itself was an odd coincidence.
I have introduced the main character, his occupation, and his struggle in the first sentence and conveyed his failure to overcome and his resistance to try another road that promises resolution but ends up failing to deliver. The second sentence reveals he suffers from depression and the third shows his reluctance to attempt to take initiative to solve his issue, supporting the first sentence.
The other element, one that I am continuing to learn and understand its significance, is the interaction with the title. Leaving Darkness implies the main character will succeed in his struggle, and indeed that is the outcome, sorry to spoil the ending. The power of the story, however, is how the main character reaches that goal. Let Me Help conveys none of that, and thus fails as a title.
Of course, all of this is one person’s opinion, somewhat (all right, heavily) biased. I am involved in a peer-editing group that provides feedback on writing style and content. When the time is appropriate to solicit feedback (likely when I’ve finished the first chapter) I’ll gain insight as to whether my perspective is on track or not. As I have written before, one of the pleasures I get from writing is the learning that accompanies the projects. Realizing the benefit of implicitly weaving the title with the beginning sentences of the book to help create that hook is just another self-taught lesson on the #indiewriting journey.