I wrote about them here.
The big problem my main character, Howie, didn't know the full Earth shattering implications of the initial event. Only the bad guys knew about it. I tried every trick in the book to keep the reader interested until Howie found out at the end of the third act. Great writing practice by the way. But I needed to have the readers know the stakes before Howie in a way that didn't make him seem like a total retard for not figuring it out.
Then I realized its just a matter of Point of View. Howie can't know about what is happening to him, but others do. So here is my new opening page:
Dr. Hanson sat in the monitoring room deep under Harriman Hall. He forced himself to look over the idiotic ramblings that his students had the nerve to call term papers. A pioneer in neuroscience reduced to grading Psych 101 papers.
'Only for a few more months. After that I'll have my own private island to retire to.' He reminded himself. He had put it off the entire spring break. Now it's Friday and he had to give them back Monday.
He looked at the paper in front of him, the wording sounded familiar. He checked the Wikipedia entry. The moron hadn't even bothered to change the wording.
He grabbed his red pen, got ready to write a huge “F” on the front page, when the alarms went off. Test subject 54's Adrenaline, Dopamine, and Serotonin levels all shot into the red.
If this were a B-movie he would look up to the overhead camera and raise his arms while screaming, “Noooooo!”
He shook off that image and did the only thing he could. He picked up the phone. “Harriman, we have a problem.”
“I'm not paying you to hear about problems, only solutions.” Harriman's voice could make asking for a glass of water sound like a death threat.
“I'm afraid this problem is as old as mankind. A girl is making --”
“I'm paying you enough to put you in the top 0.1% of wealth earners. Fixing problems as old as mankind is your job.”
“You don't understand. In his current state Howie, I mean test subject 54 --”
“Stop pretending to be the objective scientist, Hanson. Your mess up with Joey proved you don't have the balls for it.”
“I need you to understand, Harriman. This is a problem that people have tried to stop forever. It can't be solved by killing a few people.”
“I started this project when your Grandfather was still wearing skirts. Within days the Gods themselves shall bow to my will,” Harriman's voice deepened. “You will fix this problem. If you need access to government resources, I will get them for you. If you need someone killed I will arrange that. You will do whatever it takes to fix this, legal or not. If this experiment is successful no court in the world can convict you. If it is not, no government, no military, nothing in this world can save you. I will hunt you down and you will wish that you could escape to the bowels of hell rather than face my wrath! Do I make myself clear.”
“Crystal clear. I'll get right on it.” Hanson's hand was trembling as he hung up the phone.
He looked down at the paper he had been about to grade, checked the name of the student and had a glimmer of hope. “This has to work. I'm putting my life, and the fate of the world, in the hands of the dumbest girl in my class.”
* * *I think this new beginning shows the scale of Howie's little problem.