My novel doesn't start in the right place.
It's okay. I knew it then. And I know it now.
Last month I submitted my first 500 words for a seminar hosted by one of my favorite agents. There are two schools of thought regarding where to start your novel. The first, and most controversial is beginning your scene and first paragraph in Media Res, or in "the middle of things." Here, the writer plops a reader into the middle of the action, sometimes in the middle of dialogue. It's tricky, this Media Res, usually reserved for shorts or flash fiction. This is how I began my novel.
However, many agents advise against Media Res, and offer this advise: start your novel with a little background. Allow your reader to have an introduction with your characters. Turn on some music. Buy us a drink. Ease into the scene. Of course, this easing and schmoozing has to be done while building suspense and tension.
The lovely agent took the time to offer some wise comments including "slow down." Let us get to know your characters first before we slam them into action. Also, she also offered this advise:
IF YOU START THE STORY AND HAVE TO FLASH BACK TO ANOTHER SCENE WITHIN 500 WORDS, YOU DIDN'T START YOUR STORY IN THE RIGHT PLACE.
Thank you, lovely agent. I agree, and am off to re-write my first chapter.