Oh Wise and Worldly Ms. Shark,I'm looking for some guidance (hope) on the warning to 'never start a story with a character waking up'. When I first started crafting this tale, I wasn't aware of the abhorrence this elicits in so many folks.The MC needs to find himself unexpectedly alone aboard a ship usually teeming with crew. Now, to be fair, he is not shown waking up, doesn't brush his teeth or put on his clothes. In effect he woke up five or ten minutes earlier, and is about to set out in search of his shipmates.In fact, there's really only one sentence that describes his sleeping at all, and it's there mostly for grounding, lest the reader think the crew has vanished with a poof."He wasn't surprised to have been left sleeping, but wondered how he'd not been roused by the crew's no doubt raucous departure." Or something like that. An unexpected liberty had been called.I can find no meaningful (not inelegant) way to 'work it in later'. I have only a scant few paragraphs to build reader sympathy for this guy, and his obvious isolation ( and ostracization) is a big part of it. Within two pages the poop hits the fan and we're off to the races, and bringing it up after that feels really contrived.I've even gone so far as relocating (to the beginning) a flashback reveal that occurs much later in the story, the true inciting incident, which occurs well in advance of the opening, with naught but boring sea voyage between. But doing this feels very stuck on, almost like a prologue, even though I've edited out the flashbackiness.I could make it a prologue, at my peril, but would still be back at my 'waking' beginning, especially for any(every)one who skips it. And the reveal works so much better where I had it before, after it has been referred to several times and the reader is just dying to know: what really happened, why was he really marooned, etc.Am I truly doomed? Will every agent who reads this waking up opening hit the auto-reject button?Signed,Woeful in Weeki Wachee
Let's all remember that you can break every rule in the book and twice on Sunday IF you do it well. The rules "no sleeping, no driving, no this that and the other" really mean Don't Bore Me. Driving, waking, sleeping are all static.
Now, if you open a scene with a car chase, that's certainly driving and done well, it can be very very dynamic.
And weather? Well, open in a hurricane and you just might have something pretty tense.
And in your case, you might have your character waking but if he finds himself mysteriously alone on a ship that should be crewed by dozens...well, I'd sure want to read on to find out why.
The rules are guidelines for keeping out of trouble. Sometimes though, you really want to be IN trouble, and breaking the rules is a good way to get there.