NaNoWriMo Day 2: How to fix a sucky opening (without trashing the whole thing)

When the kids were younger, and they were enthralled by certain books, I would ask to look at the book they were reading, specifically at the opening paragraph to see what makes it hooky.

I had every intention of noting what makes an opening hooky, but I didn’t. (Missed opportunity.) Suffice to say that unless the author was lucky to nail it from the get-go, that hooky opening most likely was the result of good editing.
You don’t have the same luxury to look upon your NaNoWriMo project and tweak it to perfection. There isn’t time. Also, if you do, it can derail your progress.

I didn’t follow my own advice this year. After the first day of NaNo, I was up to 1,770 words. Day 2 and I am back to 800.

For NaNo, I normally don’t rewrite, let alone delete words. Typically, even if I mess up, I keep writing. My NaNo mantra is, I can always fix that later. But this one started off all wrong. And this new opening feels so right. From here, I won’t change things drastically.

That is one way.

The other way is to keep writing forward. Avoid looking back at the opening, or you will nitpick it. Make a note of what needs to be changed in that earlier section and write according to that change moving forward.

That said, you should at least nail the following from the get-go:

1.How do you want to make the reader feel? Set the mood. Is your story serious? Funny? Sassy? Reflective?

2.A general feel for the characters. Oftentimes, I don’t know them completely until they walk onto the stage. But in general, it helps to peg their personality type. Before my rewrite, my characters seemed like cardboard figures. After, I pegged the hero as “calm” and the heroine as “intense.”

3.What point-of-view is best for the story? Experiment with a paragraph or two and pick one. Same with the tense–past or present.

Happy writing!