Because I was up to my eyeballs in rewriting chunks of my present book at the time, I omitted to mention what a fab Winter Party the RNA threw in London at the end of last year. Loads of interesting authors, all with agony stories to tell. I was delighted to find out that quite a number of them had tales of being 'advised' by agent/publisher to ditch the opening of their book when it starts with the heroine/hero as a child.
Why? I hear you ask.
Well, I have experienced this 'advice' myself. It came as an unpleasant shock but I understand the wisdom of it from a reader's point of view. They want the story to be in the here and now, not a load of back-story. But clearly it is part of the process by which a writer gets to know her/his own characters, to understand what rocks their boat and how they will react in the events that are about to unfold.
It's always hard to chuck out episodes that you sweated blood over but that's what agents and publishers are for - to make you ruthless with yourself. So having got your motivations and childhood traumas all worked out in the opening chapter, my 'advice' to budding authors is 'Bin it!', and get on with the story.
Back to the party. It was good fun and wonderfully incestuous with all the book crowd full of encouragement for each other, while wondering fiercely whose sales were topping whose. The proceedings were further enlivened when a charming agent I was talking to fainted on me in mid-sentence. I know authors yack on about writing till boredom glazes the braincells, but really!!