An Alternative to the Morning Scene
It's just that there so many ways to do this better, in a way that will actually make readers care.
Everyone has a morning routine. It's relatable, sure, but it tells us nothing special about your main character--unless their routine is truly bizarre. How do you establish something special about your character, while giving something readers will relate to, and making them care?
Let's say your character is a high school student, and plays sports. To establish his/her character, you might have them getting ready for a big game, or start in the middle of the big game. Clearly this is something your character cares a lot about. Maybe they lose. Maybe that moment feels like the absolute end of the world to them, but then the story picks up, and really crazy things start happening. Your character can then look back and think of how silly it was to be worried about losing a stupid game, now that they're in actual life and death situations.
Start with something your character really cares about: A big test, a job interview, asking out a crush, etc. They don't always have to lose, either, but starting with a situation the character sees as a huge deal tells us a lot about who they are. It's also fun when they gain perspective later in the story. Situations like these are still relatable, but more meaningful than watching someone roll out of bed.
This is only one way to make your main character relatable while also establishing something special about them right from the start. There are a multitude of ways to begin your novel. This week, I just wanted to focus on how to elevate a morning routine into something new. If you're having trouble, go ahead and start with the morning routine, then continue. Write what happens after your main character is ready to go. Where are they going? What are they doing? Then, just cut everything before the action started.
Here's a little example:
My alarm was buzzing loudly. My eyes snap open and I'm instantly nervous. I sit up and find my clothes neatly folded where I placed them the night before. Clean black pants and an ironed blue blouse. Stretching, I decide I need a shower first. I let the hot water pour down my body, hoping it will also clear my head. I hope I'm ready.
I dry off and dress, wondering if I should wear a different shirt, or maybe a dress, or a skirt instead. No time to change now. Heading back to the bathroom I put on a light layer of make-up. I don't usually wear any make-up, but I know I should look my best today, or at least try. My wavy blonde hair doesn't want to cooperate, no matter what I do to it, but I'm running out of time. I check myself one more time before hurrying out the door.
I pull up outside the office, checking the address one more time. This is it. My big day. Once in a lifetime opportunity.
Inside, a man dressed in a suit greets me with a smile. Crap. I should have worn a suit. Suddenly I feel underdressed, unprepared, and intimidated. But I do have answers in my head. Katie, my roommate, and I have been going over every possible question they might ask me.
The man reaches out to shake my hand, and leads me into his office. I take a deep breath, and sit down across from him. He's already talking about the company, and the position. As if I haven't been thinking about this my entire life. Once his little speech is complete, his sits up and looks me in the eye.
"So, Miss Turner, what are your qualifications for this position?"
Now, all that needs to happen is to cut off everything before "I pull up outside the office." This particular morning scene does nothing more than establish what our character looks like. A description of her could be easily added in right after "I should have worn a suit," and before "Suddenly I feel underdressed." We still know she's going in for the interview of her life, and she's incredibly nervous.
You don't necessarily need to redo your entire opening. Just cut to the chase.