My current manuscript begins with my protagonist waking up. I know, I know, how cliche and wrong! Every blog article and post reminds us this is what writers do when they don’t know how to begin a story. However, what if there good reason behind beginning a novel with your character waking? Or perhaps a better question, is there ever a good reason?
The protagonist in my manuscript is famous and the media portrays him to be one way, when he is actually another. I opted to take a risk and open up my story with my character waking and going about his routine, to looking in the mirror. The mirror is an important symbol throughout the story because my character is constantly wondering if he is seeing the same person everyone else is seeing. His physical appearance factors in throughout, not only because he is handsome, but because he is labeled a “heartthrob” by the press and so he believes he must always live up to this expectation.
Through mirrors, my character can analyze and scrutinize himself which he does quite frequently. In the opening scene, he not only reflects on his super-star good looks but also how much he resembles his estranged father. This realization fills him with anguish and pain, taking him back to his turbulent childhood. If his appearance is so similar to his father’s, perhaps they also share a poor demeanor.
Mirror are introduced throughout my manuscript, and at the closing, the bathroom routine is revisited. My main character has overcome many personal obstacles and has truly come full-circle. He finally no longer feels the need to look in the mirror and analyze himself. “He was who he was, and no amount of staring and looking was going to change him, where he came from, or who he was; somehow he didn’t care too much if his Jake was the same Jake that everyone else saw.”
So my point in beginning my novel in such a way considered too cliche, was to portray a normal waking-up routine that was symbolic and thematic throughout my novel. I’m not certain if this is a good enough reason for some, but I find for this particular story it works. Fingers crossed.