Write on Wednesday: Beginnings and Endings

I’m having a problem with this third book in the Caribbean series (no title yet, just Book Three). The two most important main characters are young women who are fraternal twins. One of them always seemed more interesting to me. Yvie is impulsive, often thoughtless, and does not want to spend the rest of her life on the small Caribbean island where she was born.  Note: she was named Yvie in the second book of this series written more than ten years ago. I had no idea she would turn out to be Eve, the temptress. Her name was always pronounced the French way with a long E. Scary how the mind works.

Lots has been written about the importance of the first couple of sentences and the first scene in your book. It has to hook the reader as does the last sentence of the chapter. You want your reader to be so intrigued they want to keep reading. I have the additional problem that Book Three is part of a series but also needs to stand alone in case a reader starts with this book.

I need to figure out which twin will begin Book Three.

This is how Book Three starts if I begin with Yvie who is just graduating from Boston University:

Boston, Massachusetts, May 2004

The tattoo parlor, set between a tiny Thai carryout and a shoe repair shop with a windowful of unclaimed shoes, was in a Boston strip mall that should have been renovated twenty years ago.  Yvie Demontagne didn’t embrace the body art trend catching on with her peers. It was too permanent and Yvie was a person who frequently changed her mind.

This is how the first chapter ends if I start the book with Yvie:

The snake tattoo seemed to be calling her. She knew what her Grandmother Bertille would say. When a spirit calls, you tempt fate if you don’t listen! As much as Yvie loved her island grandmother, she was into some seriously weird mystical shit. That had been three months ago, and now that the tattoo was on her leg, it sometimes felt like the snake twitched. “It’s just a tattoo,” Yvie said out loud as she itched her leg. “Get over yourself. You’ve got a bigger problem.”

She pushed an auburn curl behind her ear, closed her green eyes and cupped her chin in her hands. Yvie just needed to get through next week. Her parents and twin sister, Lissa, were due in Boston for her college graduation in three days, and she didn’t know how she was going to tell them. The news was not about her tattoo.


The other twin, Lissa, is studious, calm, caring and envies Yvie’s ability to fall in and out of relationships. She graduated college in three years and has been working at her family’s successful island hotel.

If I start the novel with Lissa, here’s how it would begin:

St. Lucia, West Indies ­­– May 2004

It was a half hour run on back roads to the abandoned Rochers plantation site, much of it uphill. For Lissa Demontagne a daily run was part of her routine, an attempt to keep the bathroom scale at an acceptable number. Close to the top she stopped, hands on thighs to catch her breath, inhaling the scent of the citronella lotion she’d applied to her bare arms and legs.

Jagged columns of sunlight pierced openings where the rainforest had not yet reclaimed its territory. Enormous boulders, hurled skyward in a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, dotted the landscape and rusted hunks of machinery, remnants of a long-ago sugar cane mill, littered the partial clearing where the old house stood empty.

And here is how that first chapter would end: 

Lissa decided she’d bring Grandfather Marcus here. He knew more about the Saint Lucian rainforest, its flora and fauna, than anyone else on the 238-square mile island she called home. She needed to ask him about the snake, but she wasn’t going to tell him how that poisonous fer-de-lance ended up dead — food for the island’s carrion birds.

I’m inclined to start with Yvie. What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Write on Wednesday: Beginnings and Endings

  1. Are the twins the protagonist and and antagonist or are they going to align to struggle against a common conflict or threat? If they are going to combine forces in the future consider introducing them together to show how they do/don’t work well together and then conflict can break them apart and bring them back together as the plot requires. Twins are a power literary device – how you introduce them can either be a foreshadow of how their “twinning” will be used to resolve the main conflict or a red-herring. Also, you mention they are “two of the most important main characters” which is a bit worrisome – how many main characters are you trying to fit in the story? Perhaps you mean you have a group of supporting characters that remain through much of the work, but they aren’t central to the plot arc?


    • This is helpful, Mary Ann. They eventually align themselves against a common threat, and at the beginning work together. They come to grief over a man. There are lots of characters in this book with several subplots that all come together at the end. At this point I pretty much hate the book, but I think that always happens about now.


  2. Yvie. Her beginning makes the story sound more intriguing. While I think I would identify more with Lissa, something about Yvie draws me in. Perhaps the fact that I would not identify with her!


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