The beginning of the story is its most crucial part. We all know
that you can only make one first impression; so it's especially
important to immediately hook your reader. Maybe that's why we
struggle with and agonize over beginnings so much; and maybe that's
why beginnings have a way of multiplying.
Have you ever had this happen to you? You start a story with a killer
opening image, action, or scene. But before you can continue the
story, you think of another opening image that would work just as
well. You write that beginning too, planning to choose which one will
work best later. Then you think of another opening image that's just
perfect. Pretty soon, you've got five different beginnings to your
story. You may think that you can somehow incorporate these great
images later in the story; but of course, some images only work as
the beginning of the story, and can't be shuffled around. You're
embarking on the garden of forking paths, but the paths are forking
far too early.
Indecisiveness comes from insecurity.
In this case, the indecisiveness that comes from multiple beginnings
often stems from insecurity. You know that your writing just isn't
good enough; you're convinced that each image you create is somehow
falling short. The way to avoid that hard realization is just to keep
beginning again. It's a form of procrastination.
Once you realize this, however, you can put a stop to it. An
important stage of the writing process is to be able to write really
crappy first drafts. We know our first drafts are going to be full
of problems. But it's better to have a completed draft that you can
work with than a folder full of half finished openings. At some
point, when you see multiple openings beginning to paralyze you, it's
time to drive forward through your draft. Make yourself write without
looking back for a while. Finish a scene or a chapter. Then you can
Indecisiveness comes from fear of missing out.
The only reason you might be writing multiple first chapters is the
fear of missing out. All of us are opportunists; we know we can't do
everything, but we want to be able to do so many things. Compulsive
hoarders are known to have this problem; they hold onto objects
because they have so many different projects in mind that they'd like
to do. But holding on to too many objects and projects will keep you
from starting any of them. At some point, in writing as well as in
life, you have to shed some opportunities and focus on others. Look
back at your multiple chapters and make a hard choice about which one
will really prove most fruitful. Then let the others go.