On First Chapters
Every book I’ve written has one thing in common: the first scene never changes. I know different authors brainstorm in different ways. But when it comes to first scenes, I’ve been lucky enough that the first chapter I’ve written has been the one that sticks.
I come into a project with the first scene already brewing in my head. With my debut YA, The Vicious Deep, it was a brilliant beach day that turned into a typhoon. In the sequel, The Savage Blue, I started with a sword fight. With Luck on the Line, my first NA romance, I imagined that coffee shop scene over and over before the rest of the novel came to me.
I imagine a very bold thought or action or just plain start in media res, and make that the focal point. I want to forget about the weather, the sunrise, or the moment that my protagonist first wakes up and brushes his or her teeth. I want to skip over the monotony or mundane and get into the instance where things begin to change for my heroine. I like to think the beginning of the middle is right where my story needs to start.
Let me tell you a little bit about my decisions for the first chapters in my New Adult romance series.
For my On the Verge series, I knew I wanted to have bold, no-nonsense girls. I open Luck on the Line with the protagonist, Lucky, stealing her love interest’s coffee after an insta-hate interaction. This was my first shot at any kind of non-YA writing since college, and I was afraid. Every time I wrote a short story I was told to age up to thirty or down to teens. It’s like girls in their early to mid twenties didn’t exists as an age group! Anyway, I took that sentiment and knew I wanted to do justice to the kind of love story that I wanted to tell. I also wanted to stay true to myself. I love characters that are complicated and stubborn (because aren’t we all?). I love girls who are sarcastic, and men who are understanding and sexy. I love people who challenge each other and create that spark that is so very important when it comes to romance. So when I came to Lucky and James, I knew a misunderstanding was the best way to bring about their eventual attraction.
In this book, I wanted to take write about someone with a broken heart. Love is sometimes stronger after it’s gone through the ringer and this is true for my protagonist Sky Lopez. Coming from a relationship torn apart by infidelity, Sky isn’t looking for anything that could lead to more heart break. This is why I chose to start with the promise of a wedding. Facing the very thing that could have been in your future is hard. It’s like staring at a missed opportunity in the face. Sky’s journey is about love, loss, family, and all kinds of acceptance. Most importantly, it’s about the challenge of what you would do if the very thing you wanted fell right at your feet?
LIFE ON THE LEVEL: 2/23/16
River Thomas is a wild card, and I wanted to make sure that it was known from chapter one. Things get steamy instantly, and the rest of the novel unfolds from the choices River has taken in the past and present. Like I said, I like writing bout complicated girls, and River is no exception. She’s hard to love, and I think she likes it that way. Sometimes accepting love from others is hard to do. Opening yourself up to being vulnerable is scary. Whether it’s romance, friendship, or something in between. I knew River’s story had to start from a place of brash emotion, need, and a life-changing spark.
When it comes to first scenes, I think it’s best to listen to your characters. What is the tone that needs to be set for the rest of the story to fall into place? What defines your character and the choices that lie ahead? What makes you excited to continue? These are the things I like to ask myself before I head on over to Chapter Two.
I leave you with chapter one of LOVE ON THE LEDGE from Wattpad. I hope you enjoy!
RANDOM THINGS ABOUT ZORAIDA
1. My patronus is a hippocampus. Or Jesse Spano Being Excited. It depends on the day.
3. I can eat an entire pizza pie by myself. It’s not pretty.
4. Ginger is my favorite Spice Girl.
5. Spanish is my first language. I was born in Ecuador. That’s pretty much why I made Sky Lopez from Love on the Ledge, Ecuadorian.
6. Hayden from Love on the Ledge is a roofer. There’s just something about a man with a toolbelt that can be really sexy. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/28/ad/5f/28ad5f056105b6949e610ea27e38f5d3.jpg
7. I love Orlando Bloom. See: my pillow
9. I don’t know how to swim. It’s only kind of ironic because my debut novel is about mermaids. Listen, I know enough to fear and respect the sea.
10. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was 13.
11. I lived in Montana for six months in college. It is my favorite state, and the setting for my next romance, Life on the Level.
12. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2010! It’s a great kick in the pants to get to writing. For all you writers out there looking to get word on the page, it’s great motivation.