The Toughest Obstacle Authors Face

The toughest obstacle authors face is their opening pages. In fiction and nonfiction drafts, there’s often a lot of throat-clearing in the opening sections.
In fiction, authors think readers need to know the main character in detail, so they dump a lot of that person’s history into the opening sections. In nonfiction, writers introduce the history of some event or person before getting on with the show. Both equal dull, slow pacing almost every time.
The trick is to weave that historic material into the opening section. The main focus should be on something that is important to the character, or in nonfiction, a specific part of the overall topic. As opportunities arise, slip in a few sentences or even a few paragraphs with relevant bits of backstory.
Special note in fiction: Avoid flashbacks! Use them only infrequently, and make sure to use them for all the right reasons. Too often it’s an easy way for authors to handle backstories. It is well worth the effort to weave the material in. The flow will be smoother, and agents and publishers know that’s a mark of a true professional author.


5 thoughts on “The Toughest Obstacle Authors Face

  1. JMD398

    That is something great to know and add to the collection of knowledge. I want to write a novel but am struggling where to start. But this is helpful.


  2. Laine Cunningham Post author

    Start with your heart. Whatever scene or element stirs your passion the most, that’s where you begin. It’s much more important to start, and then continue writing, then to worry about whether you’re starting the “right” way. EVERYTHING can be fixed once it’s on paper. If it’s only in your head, it will be very difficult to fix.



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