1. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    Avoiding cliche beginings

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Flashfire07, Aug 13, 2011.

    Lately I've been attempting to get back into writing after a long hiatus, my issue however is that I don't quite know how to start the story off. Whenever I do I usually resort to having the character wake up or be waiting for something. MY issue is I simply don't know how to begin a story. I'm wrting a science fiction with supernatural elements story and a modern day supernatural adventure story. Any advice on how to start either of these two?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd recommend that you just start wherever you want to start, even if it seems cliched or boring, write the rough draft, and then search your story for the beginning. Once the story is in front of you, it should be much easier to pick out where the interesting events really start. You might throw out a few page from the beginning, but that's probably less time wasted than fighting for the right beginning before you start.
     
  3. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    DO NOT begin the story with MC waking up, far too cliche. A critic will read that and chuck the book straight down. You have one of two options. Start with something basic like a character sitting outside. Thinking about life, going inside or outside, whatever and doing something vaguely related to the plot. or a good technique is to start a few chapters ahead. And then once you are back in the mood of writing, several chapters into the novel. Then, go back into the story and write the first few parts. Hope this helps.

    :)
     
  4. SK.Knolls
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    SK.Knolls New Member

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    I agree with both of the above. Having the rough draft or outline finished, you can then adjust, edit and move what you think is the most powerful piece to grab people's attention to the beginning while adding necessary background if needed. Avoiding cliches is advised, such as a character waking up or the typical description of weather.
     
  5. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I like to start anywhere that's interesting.

    Sometimes I go to the bookstore and pick up random books, only reading the first page. I see what grabs my attention and what makes me want to put my book down.

    I enjoy beginnings that state something enticing or outrageous. Like, "My mother in law died in a fiery freak accident because of karma; she was a shrew." And then talk about the shrew mother-in-law for a paragraph or two or three. The reader keeps reading because he/she wants to know about the bombshell your dropped -- how'd she die anyway?

    Readers like a little mystery. Entice them, make them yearn for more right away.

    If you're not sure how you want to start, just start writing and you'll be able to pick where it begins later.
     
  6. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    What happens after the character wakes up? What happens after he waits for something? Maybe start there? In other words, if you have your character waiting on a truck to pull into the drive, don't start with him waiting. Start with the truck pulling into the drive. Just a thought.
     
  7. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    Maybe he's sleeping and wakes up behind the wheel. Maybe he fell asleep when driving. If you do have them sleeping or do them have them doing something cliche, do it in an interesting way.

    Or start off the character reading a book or some other things.
     
  8. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    Hmmm... well what I used to do back before I stopped writing for a bit was place the character smack bang in the middle of some situation, have to audience come in halfway through a combat, an argument or some other high tension event, but I can't start every story that way and I'm not entirely sure that's a satisfactory way to start off a story... I do find that books which start off with a mystery are much more engaging but I'm a tad too clumsy with my writing for that to work.
     
  9. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    Yeah i like to write or read a book like this :)
     
  10. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    I like to start with a spoken sentence or an action scene. But start with something relevant to the plot. And remember, the first few sentences are the bit that will hook or lose the reader. They are one of the most important parts of the book. However, don't spend too long trying to figure out what to write - you can always rewrite it later! Or delete the entire first three sentences if you deem them unnecessary. The trick is to get the ball rolling and worry about the editting later.


    Another trick is to start with something unexpected and quirky. The best first sentence of a novel I have ever read is:

    I'll give a REP point to the first person who names that book.
     
  11. Epic0n
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    Epic0n Member

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    Hungry Cities Chronicles? Can't remember the exact title though... don't wanna look which book up cuz that'd be cheating, right :p ?

    Anyway, I started off a cliche enough beginning, char waking up in a fantasy world akin to Tolkien's world, but it turned out pretty well since he was waking up in the middle of two little demons fighting over who gets to eat him :p I definitely will change it to one of the ideas in a thread I made, but, yeah, make it exciting, k?
     
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  12. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

    (I googled it!)

    As to the OP, I don't necessarily start at the begining. I'd usually start with a scene I have in my head, usually an oddball one, and just start writing that. Then I start writing the rest of the book around it.

    Cheers.
     
  13. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    That's what I sometimes do, but then I feel... I dunno, empty, like I missed out half the book or something along those lines. Starting a story is always the hardest part I find!
     
  14. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think chicken freak had a good advice, I'll second that!
     
  15. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Writing my first ever novel, so am not experienced *at all* - however, I started my beginning in the beginning of an action scene. My MC was going to be chased by a bunch of High Priests who want his life - so I started it right there, when the High Priests came in.

    I'm struggling with that beginning though because of the dialogue - my readers don't know who the High Priests are, what they mean to my world etc - and it's difficult having a long prose narrative explaining while keeping the momentum.

    It's still lacking because of the problem above :(

    But I'm more or less satisfied with the way it begins - it's just a matter of writing it well enough. But I've already re-written my beginning once and I'm holding back on redoing it for the 2nd time (which will eventually come) because right now I just wanna finish my first draft.

    But I realised all these things about 80-90 pages into writing my draft.

    Basically, false starts aren't the worst thing in the world. You can still change the beginning even after everything's developed - you just have to write in "connecting scenes", as I call them - little bits that take your MC back to, say, p.20 of your story because from p.20 the story runs just fine.

    It's like an essay - my tutors actually advised us to write the middle and conclusion of our essays, and only THEN go back and write an introduction, because the intro is THAT important but sometimes you just don't know how to begin or what you actually wanted to say before the thing's done.

    Hope that helps. Sorry it's a bit long :p

    Either way, I think you should get your priorities right. Just get writing - you feel like you've missed half the book, not a problem - go back later and add the beginning then. But just start writing! It's better to have a story rather than no story at all :)
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    as for an example of how I started the story I'm working on right now I followed (and I usually do) the advice "start with the day that's different" and that is what i did. I started it with the day and event that changed the mc's life and the rest of the novel is how that change developed and how the situation evolved from there.
     
  17. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    Thanks for the good advice people, I"m a bit of a perfectionist and hold my work to a high standard, I want people to read my work and not just chuck it away cause I flubbed the beginning. I'll take the advice of just writing and seeing if it needs a beginning later, maybe I'll have created one without realizing it.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Just write the story. You'll probably remove your original beginning during revision anyway.
     
  19. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Flashfire,

    The problem I have with my more organic style of writing and jumping in somewhere in the middle, is continuity. I'm constantly having to ask myself how did my MC get here etc. But its simply the way I write.

    Cheers.
     
  20. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Right. Go about your daily business. Then stop and look around. See anyone doing anything? The first thing you see or feel is the opening of your story. You can come up with interesting ones: I once needed a wee in a forest (living the dream, I know), so the first draft of the book opened with the character weeing in a forest. It went on to describe how he'd came to be there - travelling. A pretty generic one that can be adapted to all sorts of stories, that. It'll turn off some readers, though.

    Basically, look for sources of inspiration in your daily life. There's everyday situations all around you. As long as you get into the story fairly quickly you can use any one of them.
     
  21. AJSmith
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    AJSmith Senior Member

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    Yep. My second draft had a totally different beginning. The beginning became combined with another scene. Scenes were cut. Scenes were added. Point is, so much will probably change, but you have to have the draft written to make those changes. :)
     

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