My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Clichéd Beginnings

So I was going through my critiques for my first chapter, as I’m trying to edit it enough to submit to a few contests–and I got one crit that said the beginning started too late.

This makes me giggle a bit as the last draft I wrote I started it way too early. Anyway, it was only one crit out of half a dozen that said that. Still, I decided to try and rewrite a new beginning, following this person’s suggestions.

This person suggested I start it right as Naomi’s mother was dying…I’ve done this once before and it seemed cliche to me. I rewrote it again and guess what? It still sounds overused.

To me, it’s  similar to the whole beginning where the person has a dream and wakes up, etc. I could be wrong though. I did see what this person was saying, although now I’m not sure how to do it. I did rewrite it with a deathbed scene but…meh. It doesn’t work and I think I’m going to ignore it. I may input some info in as a brief flashback but that’s it.

Anyway, what do you feel about deathbed openings?  What are some other cliched openings that you can think of?

Comments on: "Clichéd Beginnings" (10)

  1. Hm. I’m not sure deathbed beginnings are cliche (at least, I haven’t read many that open with deathbeds); it really depends on how you utilize it. Personally, as long as it doesn’t veer into excessive melodrama, I think it’s fine. 🙂

    • Maybe it’s just me…I suppose I don’t like the whole sudden revelation as the person’s dying because honestly, that doesn’t happen very often in real life. Most of the time, people are too delusional to really make sense or are unconscious.

      Perhaps it’s me overthinking it. 😛

      • Nope I think you got it correct on what the end of life is mostly about….delirious or unconcious…STAY with your FIRST inclination…but just me….Or for a more informed opinion send me the beginning and I’ll give my “Uninformed Professional” Opinion….most people are likely like me just want an enjoyable time when reading…


  2. I don’t know if I’d see a deathbed scene as cliche or not, but waking up is a cliche, looking around the room and then going to the mirror to give a detailed account of personal appearance is a cliche, etc. I did think your beginning had enough emotional punch to keep the reader going, so I’m not sure I think it starts too late….

    BTW, if you’re in for a road trip this fall, you might want to check out my blog. Kansas City has a Japan Fest happening in Oct. ;D

    • Thanks 🙂 I nixed the deathbed scene again, but changed a few other things…also changing a few other things later on in the chapter. It will essentially be the same but there’s some character dynamics and motivations I have to fix. While I didn’t agree with the critiquer’s point on the beginning, there were other valid points that she made later on that I have to focus on.

      I am still not fond of the deathbed scene. Maybe I just can’t write them well myself without making them come across as forced.

  3. I think if it doesn’t feel right to you, it’s not going to come out right. I think death beds are tricky as openings since you don’t yet know or care about the protagonists so it’s tough to do a deathbed justice. On the other hand, deaths are significant events and people do want to begin on a turning point.

    Beginnings are tricky things! Maybe a comment of too early/too late could have to do with the urgency and change they feel in the scene and nothing with the actual events? Best of luck to you whichever way you go.

    • Good point. It was also only one comment; the other six didn’t mention it. But I am working on fixing it–or trying to anyway. There are other parts in the chapter that need some tweaking (a lot of other parts, LOL) that the critiquer mentioned so I’m going to focus on those.

      One good thing about trying to rewrite the beginning–it changed some other dynamics later, which I think will make it flow easier. At least, I hope so. I’m sure this will only be the first of many more revisions. 🙂

  4. I don’t know if deathbed beginnings are terribly cliche, but they’ve certainly been done before, usually in the dead of night, with poor weather, and with the doctor arriving just in time to pronounce the person dead. Bonus points if there’s extensive description of the candles casting shadows against a wall or face.

    Maybe I’m a bit strange, but I like beginnings that jump right into things. My attention span demands it, or else, I’m likely to stop reading and move on to something else for a while. I think I’d actually rather feel like I have to catch up to the protagonist than sit and wait for a few chapters before they become interesting, if that makes sense.

    I don’t know what your “late starting” beginning was, but if only one person had an issue with it, then maybe it wasn’t too bad a place to start?

  5. Woops, haha, guess that would be my comment. But I’m reading your new revision right this moment, and the beginning is much better now. So it wasn’t necessarily the event that needed changing, just the urgency and the setup.

    • I thank you though for your input! It made a lot of sense 🙂 I did write it initially and while I didn’t use it, it helped me get a better sense of the rest of the chapter later. Thank you again for it! 🙂

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