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  1. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    Always have trouble starting

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lae, Dec 3, 2013.

    I have always been told that i have a great imagination and i generally have no problems coming up with stories, i love thinking up complex stories with lots of twists. I love sci-fi, asimov in particular.

    I prefer my stories to have a hectic feeling, with the protagonist often out of the loop. The problem i have is never being able to get the start right, i cant seem to start it the right way, i have trouble with the very first line. I never had much practice as i have dyslexia and used to avoid reading and writing, i still thought up stories but just never put them down.

    Ive recently tried starting with a brief history of the human race post contact (after alien contact) literally giving dates and events etc, the history part ends with a object crash landing on a remote human colony and it being retrieved and hidden by the locals (this part being a hundred or so years before the start of the story) The next step is introducing the main character, he wonders drunk into a local army recruitment booth in a rough ghetto on earth.

    I just cant seem to introduce this setting, or the main character for that matter.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  2. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    First and foremost, don't bore the reader. The reader doesn't want a history lesson, they want action. Starting off with a massive info dump on page one is the easiest way to provoke a person to put your book down before finishing one paragraph. That said, start off at the point where you are introducing your MC. Show what he sees, smells, is feeling, etc... Put the reader in their shoes. What is he thinking? What is his motivation for being drunk? Why did he wander into a military recruiter rather than someplace else? Is there a war going on? Any one of these is a good jumping off point for a first chapter.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!

    the 'start off at the point where you are introducing your MC' part i can't agree with, as that's only one way/place to start... and not necessarily the best, for this story... each story has its own needs, so there's no one-size-fits-all 'best'...
     
  4. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't worry about the start that much as far as "tone" or "feel" etc. go. The important thing is to have a gripping start that catches the reader's interest and holds it. What I mean with the first sentence is that the first draft will always be crap. Sometimes it takes thousands upon thousands of words to get to know and capture the "feel" you want for your story. Then, when you start editing, working on the 2nd, 3rd, and 10th drafts, you know your story much better and have a solid grip on the characters, the plot etc, so it's much easier to implement the desired "feel" into the beginning in the following drafts.

    I know my and KaTrian's current WIP's first chapter has gone through around 20 edits or so, it's been affected by about a dozen beta readers etc. and it's very different from the 1st draft. This has happened to pretty much every story of ours, hence I no longer worry about capturing the story's spirit right away; it'll come eventually.
     
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  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The start doesn't have to be great, for the first draft. You may even be starting at the wrong spot, such as too early in the story. That's okay. Start where you believe you should and write, get past that first hurdle you've been struggling with. Finish the novel. By the time you do that...have that first draft finished, you'll have a better grasp of the storyline, characters and setting, so when you go back to revise, you can revisit the weak beginning.

    If you feel that you need to start with the history...write out that infodump. Then just pay attention as you write the rest of the story and see where that information can be placed (if it's needed) within the context of the story, when it's more appropriate. When you go back to revise that first draft, much of the beginning you wrote won't be needed and you can adjust the story's start accordingly.

    But if you never get past the beginning, because you can't get it right, then you'll never actually finish the story.
     
  6. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    So you don't know how to write the exposition into the story, and you don't know how to write the MC into a conflict? Maybe you could make the exposition into a conflict in of itself.

    What I'm doing in a sci-fi story I'm working on is writing the first scene about an interrogation, so even just seeing the characters get information from each other has enough tension to get the story started. Most importantly, we get character development right off the bat in terms of 1) what information they are each willing / unwilling to give and 2) how they each obtain / react to the information from the other side.

    Would you like to try something like that? Maybe the world has been changed by recent technological developments, and the MC gets into a violent argument with a side character about whether those changes are as good as everybody thinks?
     
  7. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nice stuff so far, thanks guys.

    Thanks TWE, i had written it up and kept it to one side, i was thinking a large majority of it could be included into his lessons when he joins the army, educating the soldiers as to what and why they're fighting. Might be able to get some debate going to better explain some of the events, i am now mindful of boring people now though.

    Simpson, that sounds like a good idea, im not quite sure which, now that i think about it the main conflict comes a bit later, the more i think about it the less gripping that initial chapter would be.

    The gist of his beginnings is: a a young poor factory worker in the lower echelons of society, the manual labourers left on earth to tend the farms etc, he drinks a lot because like most on earth he sees himself with no future, pretty much working to live. The area is very poor, lots of crime and drugs, hardly any policing, he looks after his elderly mother but has no partner, children etc
    He gets drunk one night after work and tries to join the army, he sees it as a way out (im thinking a conflict here could be his brother died in the army whilst colonising a new planet, he resents the army seeing them as being pointless now that the contact war is over, feels his brother died for nothing) The only way off earth is with money or as a solider. He gets thrown in a drunk tank and sobers up, gets fined for being drunk on army property, his pay is so low it makes paying off debts practically impossible so he decides nothing is left for him and joins the army (the brother issue and his elderly mother could be conflicts here i suppose) he gets sent to the military academy off world and it all kicks on from there.

    Its nice to have that written up, i guess i can start dissecting it now.
     
  8. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    You've got half the stuff you need for an organic exposition dump already. A drunken political argument.
     
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  9. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    MLM, great idea! i didnt make that connection at all. I could get some real emotion going too, raving about the poverty, the war, his brother etc etc

    Thanks very much
     
  10. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    How about an Ordinary World.
     
  11. Rafiki
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    Rafiki Active Member

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    A great teacher once told me to begin with an image. Initially I took it literally, but have since taken liberties with his advice. I'd recommend the same thing.
     

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