Ok, I have to post this little interstitial post because, mostly there's this item on my "blogging todo list" that I keep ignoring, that I really want to mention, and I think if I weren't so damn verbose, I would have gotten to it at some point in my last post about cosmic scale plots and story structure.
I think part of the thing at play, at least for me, is that great big, cosmic stories, even if they don't take too long to tell are sort of the stories of my heart. I love these sort of big picture stories, where we see whole epochs shift, and watch while characters rise and fall.
Think about the epic SF written in response to the cold war that was the core of the SF canon (and largely still is, though I think their influence has wained in the last 15 years): Dune, Foundation, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc.
Anyway. I think another result of being too tuned into the larger story, to being too enamored of the epic, is that it becomes very very easy to start your stories too soon. Rather than start at the beginning, as far as I can tell, it's usually better to start when things start happening. The space between the provoking instance and the sequence events that make up the store is part of what creates mystery and intrigue in a novel. It seems to me.
This is of course compounded that novels, when we read them almost always have a prologue of some sort, and really successful epics often eventually have prequels. But we'll note a couple of things, 1) These are written after the original story, 2) they almost always suck, particularly in comparison to the original story.
Also, if people wrote better hooks, I think I might have an easier time turning off the internal editor when I'm reading stories for my crit group. Because I really want to say "just chop off the beginning, nothing else matters as much." But I don't, and as a result end up sending fewer critiques.
Not that I'm particularly good at this, yet, but it's all about learning these things, isn't it?
Onward and Upward!