Today my local writing group, which meets once a month, will get together to discuss the opening of Deadtown #4. When I start a new novel, I usually don’t start at the very beginning. I look at my outline and begin where I can. In other words, I look for a scene that’s close to the beginning that feels ready to be written. I find a scene I can write and dive in there. Later, when I know the shape of the whole story, I go back and write Chapter 1, along with whatever scenes I need to knit up that chapter with what I’ve already written. So usually I can’t share my work until after I’ve completed the first draft and gotten a little ways into the second.
This time, though, I started with Chapter 1. I had an idea for an opening scene and decided to try it. I’m going for a quick introduction to Vicky’s world with both humor and action, to plunge readers right into the story. I’m looking forward to finding out to what extent it works and what I need to fix. I’m also a little nervous, because I never show anyone my work this early.
Everyone in my writers’ group is a published author. One of the things I appreciate most about the group is that we write in a variety of genres. We’ve got essayists, poets, mystery writers, and writers of literary and historical fiction. (That makes it sound like a huge group. It’s not; most of us write in multiple genres.) And then there’s me—your friendly neighborhood urban fantasy author with a broad background in English. This is a great mix for getting good feedback. I’ve found it really helpful to hear the questions and comments of smart people who don’t normally read fantasy. Such questions make me realize what I’m taking for granted in my readers or when I’m leaning too heavily on the conventions of my genre. And if I’m entertaining non-UF readers, if I’m convincing them to suspend disbelief and enter Vicky’s world, I know I’m doing something right.
Similarly, it’s really helpful to read and give feedback on work that’s outside my usual genre. It stretches my boundaries and helps me consider issues in my own work that I might overlook otherwise. Plus it’s great to read works-in-progress by experienced authors.
So I’m looking forward to this afternoon’s meeting. I’ll get a sense of whether my potential opening of Deadtown #4 is on the right track. I’ll also get a chance to socialize, catch up with friends, and talk writing.