I’m wondering if my first instincts for the start of this story were right- I do need to open with my heroine in her ordinary world.
The point is that her life looks perfect on the surface. Perfect job, perfect Sydney apartment, perfectly hidden secrets. But it’s all front. She’s created an Ice Maiden act to hide her pain and insecurity and deep belief she’s not good enough. Her protective facade hooks right into the hero’s rejection issues- because his Dad left when he was 10 and froze him out just the same.
I need to show that attempt at perfection to start with, or at least start just when it begins to unravel. And stay deep in heroine POV for at least the whole first chapter, so the reader can really identify with her and understand her reasons for the act.
The first draft starts with her in her office, dealing with a small disaster in a way that shows her usual way of managing situations. I planned to cut this, start later in the story with the phone call from the Haven Bay nurse telling her that her mother is sick. Neither is the strongest way to do this. Then I thought I’d start when she arrives back in Haven Bay, following the advice to start in medias res, in the middle of things. But that’s starting too late. I want to start at the moment of change. And the hero should be the agent of that change.
I need to start with her in her office, but the inciting event needs to happen right there and within no more than a couple of pages. The hero needs to be the one to tell her her mother is sick, that despite the fact he never wants anything to do with her again, she has to come home. No phone call from the nurse, her mother won’t the nurse let the nurse contact her. So maybe he’s in Sydney for something else and turns up at her office unannounced. That way we see her in control, capable, competent, before everything starts to fall apart. Otherwise, if I start later, she’s just telling what the life she built for herself in Sydney was like.
I’m excited about this idea! I think I might have found my way into the story.