Daily Archives: June 27, 2011

Bad Innings vs Great Beginnings

Middle Son had baseball tourneys all weekend.  At ten, it’s his first year on the traveling league.  His team held its own, winning two of four games.

However, one game…yeah, that one…

After the first inning, the score was 12 – 0.  And we weren’t ahead.  We had some bad pitching and more than a handful of errors. 

Parents were crabby.  The kids were dejected and the coaches not thrilled.  Sports are as much a head game as they are a physical competition.  Psychologically we had already lost.

You won’t be surprised to learn that writing is exactly the same way.

A bad beginning leaves a bad taste in the mouth of our readers.  It can send them packing up their lawn chairs and sunflower seeds, already convinced there is nothing left to hold their interest. 

All too often, I’ve heard writers ask if they could send a random chapter for a submission.  Uhm, no.  Not unless you’re writing a nonfic.

Readers–of which agents and editors are–want to start with the scoreboard at 0-0.   If chapter one is not your strongest chapter, it shouldn’t set the tone of your entire novel.  You need a new beginning.  One that hits a homerun and keeps the crowd excited. 

Our little guys made quite the comeback in this game.  They didn’t win, but they made some great plays, hit some sticks and cut down on their error rate.  The next four innings were a blast to watch and not at all expected after the first bad inning.

But unlike spectators at a Little League game, agents and editors don’t have to stick around to see if you find our groove.  If we don’t throw a strike in the first inning, they’ll call us out and move on to the next promising team.

How important is your first page?  Your first paragraph?  First sentence?  Have you ever put a book back on the shelf when the first inning promised to be a wash? 

Curious minds want to know.