Big drum roll: yesterday I wrote Chapter 1, Scene 1, a total of 1,249 words. About fifty percent of them have a chance of surviving the editing process.
When I was a journalist, many, many years and careers ago, I learned not to obsess about getting it right the first time, especially the opening paragraph. Just start typing and let it flow. You can always go back and make it pretty. And it's a lot easier today with word processors than when I started with an IBM Selectric and a big bottle of White-out.
Chapter One opens with:
"Help! I need help. Please!"
I'm sure I can do better, but for now, I'm going to work with that. Believe me, it's a vast improvement over my first attempt at a mystery which opened with 12 pages of back-story, guaranteed to turn off agents and readers alike.
Several experts - I've been reading a lot of self-help books - suggest that after you write your book, you simply ditch the first couple of pages, and wherever that leaves you, that's your opening. I may just try that when I revise my first manuscript. I'm really trying to resist the temptation to dump information on my readers this time, but it's not easy. I've already purchased three red Sharpies to begin the editing.