Blue Water Writing: Where to Begin?

I envision this Second Novella as following the narrative style of the travel-writing genre but that includes a threat/crime. In the foreground, my narrator will describe his and his wife’s experiences. In the background, I’d like to present a crime-story drama about the dangers of lawlessness on a cruise ship.  “Tips for Travel Writing” by the Guardian’s Travel Team offers some interesting advice into travel-writing, which may offer sound advice about writing in general as well as provide insights into the reader’s expectations within this travel-writing genre.

Photo by Matthew Barra from Pexels

“Don’t start with the journey to the airport – start with something interesting, not what happened first.”

It makes sense to begin at the beginning of a story, but the beginning of a story does not always make for a strong start. Telling a story chronologically can be the best choice and make perfect sense; however, the best beginnings ought to highlight the later conflict. If I begin with a discussion of my choice of a suitcase, for example, then that suitcase ought to be later used as a weapon to murder someone. Scenes might be more effective if they accomplish more than one goal and if they, for example, develop the character and highlight or reference the main conflict or theme.

So many opening-scenes in movies and television series’ begin strong: the crime-drama begins with a high scream or a terrible death. The romance begins with a character’s lonely exposition. The action film begins with an exploding building or car chase.  While writers of fiction may be telling stories that are more literary, more personal, or more human even, we are still competing with the story-telling in films and television. To choose a beginning scene or setting that develops the character and the plot and that also captures the reader’s attention can be challenging. This difficult task may involve decisions about style and content that a writer at the beginning-of-the-story is not ready to make. A writer that is at the end-of-a-story and that has the plot and characters fully fleshed out might be better equipped to go back and master that opening scene.