There is a beginning that’s been following me for years now. Quite literally, in fact: I first wrote it more than ten years ago, back when I first started this thing called noveling (as opposed to just writing random snippets, which I have done for far longer). It wasn’t the beginning of my novel – it started differently – but whenever I wrote just for fun, it would come out again.
So it did yesterday as well. I like it, but I cannot for the life of me see where I’ll be able to use it. Rogue Sorcery is out – it starts far earlier, and my MC is in a far worse place mentally. Forgotten Sorcery is also out, because it picks up the plot where Rogue Sorcery left off. Same goes for the last book in the trilogy, the one whose title keeps changing, for the same reasons as book one and two. The scene does not fit with the future I had planned for her, even if it is in the distant future. But since it keeps coming back to me I might have to change things, and give her a new story sooner than I thought…
The beginning itself isn’t much, but the image it paints in my mind is so vivid that I can almost feel it. I don’t know if I will be able to convey it to the reader, but I hope so. It is a somewhat odd beginning though – it starts with an owl, lifting off from a tree by a great plain. It is winter, and the air is crisp and cold, the first rays of the sun is coming from behind the mountains in the distance and make the snow on the trees sparkle. The owl flies down the valley, which is narrow at first but widens after a while. The trees are covered with snow, and underneath them, the ground is hard and frozen. In a little clearing there is a little cottage, and the owl stops there for a moment, as if waiting for someone.
After a little while it continues its flight, flying until the forest has cleared. There it reaches a little cottage, situated beside three pine trees and in front of a large boulder. Smoke has started to rise from the chimney, and there is a path going from the cottage to the little river beside it. The owl settles on the roof, and waits. Finally someone opens the door, and a pale-haired woman steps out, pulling her shawl tighter around her. The owl rustles its feathers, and the woman looks up and greets it as if she knows it. Then she picks up her bucket and goes down to the river to fetch water.
Obviously the piece itself is written a little differently, more vividly, but the main content is like the previous two paragraphs. If I’m being very objective, it doesn’t really do much. There’s no conflict, and nothing happens until the woman appears and is about to do a very everyday chore. The owl does not have any function beyond perhaps showing that there is something special about the woman’s relationship with birds (though owls tend to appear quite a lot in these stories of mine as some kind of unspeaking narrator), or perhaps the place. It is a calm and content scene, which suggests that it takes place quite a bit later than the Sorcery trilogy, as well as showing how far my MC has come snce the events in the trilogy. In a way I feel like it is an appropriate beginning for her new story, but then again… there is no action, no plot. (I do tend to favour these kinds of beginnings, where things look calm and serene – on the surface)
I really do not know what to do about it, but it simply will not leave me alone. I might have to simply continue writing it and see where it will take me. I did that once before, and it not only gave me Rogue Sorcery, but the entire Sorcery trilogy. Everything grew out of that simple image of a girl and a horse, following a path that winds its way just where a grassy plain and a green forest meets, and the knowledge that she would find someone lying nearly dead just out of sight around the bend. It wasn’t until I brought back that scene that I “found” the story, in many ways.
Perhaps I’m simply not made for starting my stories with action. It might make it difficult to get published, if it ever gets that far, but then again you have to find your own voice. After all, many of my favourite books start slow. They just have that something that makes you want to read on regardless.