I think, no matter what your job, as long as you are willing to learn, you will continue to grow. It’s the same for me as a nurse as it is a writer. It seems I learn something new every day. Maybe I’ve read the same article ten times before, but then the very next time I read it something clicks. That little light bulb goes off.
It happened at critique the other night. I’d started writing something new and one of my critique partners said: “Everything is there, Karen. You have the humor, you have the dialogue and you have the setting, but I don’t know this heroine so I don’t care about her.”
Things began to fall in place. When I sent my editor Southern Comfort, she told me to start my story earlier. I’d originally started it when Fallon pushes her way into Wade’s room, but that’s not when her life changed. Her life changed when her cover was blown and one of Cavenaugh’s thugs shot her.
Now the reader knows why she needs someplace to hide, that her life is in jeopardy and how far she’ll go to stay alive. The reader cares about the heroine and what’s going to happen.
Start your story when, or just before the change occurs. In Southern Comfort I started at the change. In my Bad Boys I started a little earlier so I could set the plot up, hinting at what was about to happen.
Early in my career I learned not to start the story too soon and I think it stuck in my brain a little too well, but when my critique partner pointed out to me that I needed to back up and start my story earlier the light bulb went off. I looked at some of the openings in other authors’ books and the pieces came together. I just love moments like that! When you start your next book try backing up a little and introducing your character to the reader. I hope you have light bulbs going off for you (and not because of a power surge!).