Being Fashionably Late Within Your Story

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Big BenIn my previous post I suggested ending your book in the same way you would consider ending a party.  Today, I decided to continue the party analogy by looking at how to best begin your book – by being fashionably late.

The expression ‘fashionably late’ is likely familiar to most of us.  It’s is used to refer to someone who shows up at an event, such as a party, after the time the event was scheduled to begin.  This doesn’t, however, apply to those who simply got mixed up and arrived late by accident.  Being fashionably late is something done on purpose.

Okay, so why would anybody want do that?

One possibility is to create the impression you’re too busy and important with other social engagements to be anywhere on time.  However, I’d like to believe most people aren’t so self-important as all that.  The reason I’m sticking with for people to show up late is that it’s more fun.

Anyone who’s ever attended a party knows it takes a little while for the guests to loosen up.  It starts with people clustering into small groups, eyeing the refreshments, and wondering who’s going to be the first to break the ice.  While this might be a nice setting for an intimate chat with a few close friends, it doesn’t sound much like  a party.  Experienced partygoers at this stage might not even stay for the h’orderves.

Being fashionably late then means waiting to show up for the party until after the ice has broken, the music is hot, and the people aren’t just staring at the snack bar – they’re eating and drinking freely out on the dance floor.  Everybody’s already having fun!

So how does this apply to my book?  I’m glad you asked!

You’ve likely heard the advice “Don’t start your story at the beginning.”  Why?  Beginnings are boring.  Beginnings are slow.  Beginnings are all about setting up what’s going to happen since nothing has happened yet.  If you want to grab your reader’s attention and keep it, you need to bring them into your story in the middle of things.  If your story doesn’t open with tension, action, or a drama (no melodrama, please), the chances are that experienced readers won’t stick around for chapter two if they even get that far.

And don’t worry about what to do with all that necessary backstory your reader needs to understand your story.  In the same way our fashionably late partygoer will find out who else is there and catch up on the latest gossip by mingling and chit-chatting with the other guests during the party, so your readers will mix and mingle with later chapters and scenes in your book where you can introduce that important information.

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Now it’s your turn!  What are some other ways you can consider your book like a party?  Share your ideas or a drop link in the Comments section if you’re inspired to post about your own!

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4 Responses to Being Fashionably Late Within Your Story

  1. JennW says:

    Ha – this is a great analogy and so true! Great post. I really enjoyed it.:)

  2. Kaitlin says:

    Great post, and great analogy!

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