I've never been one to let the grass grow under my feet for long, and with the first draft of Unnatural Causes complete, I've moved on to a novella (novelette? Well, longer than a short story!) project that I've been talking about for a while: the zombie tale inspired by the Zombie Walk I attended some years back, specifically a few photographs of the costumed participants.
The beginning is always one of the trickiest parts of a story for me because of how much has to be put into place. Introduction to character, their goals or problem(s), and physical description, if I intend to include it. (As a reader, I create a mental picture of a character early on: if you tell me on page ten she's a redhead, tough luck, she's still blonde to me. So if I want readers to picture the character a certain way, I try to get a few big picture details down fast.) Introduction to setting, both the larger world and the specific place in which the scene is occurring. And all this has to go on while putting the plot into motion. It's enough to make your eyes cross.
With my current project, which I've tentatively titled Undertaking Chances, I have an additional complication: because zombie stories have been done to death (no, I'm never going to get tired of that particular bad joke), I have to make sure to hook the reader with some unusual aspects of the setting before I drop that dreaded word. And I am going to use the word zombie: to me, it seems that if we're assuming a contemporary or near-future setting - and I am - that the pop culture saturation of the term would inevitably see it applied to a similar phenomenon, whether accurate or not.
Once I get past these opening issues, the story will start picking up steam ...