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  1. ABMiller86
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    ABMiller86 Member

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    Beginning a story

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ABMiller86, Sep 4, 2008.

    I posted specific about my story i was writing not that long ago, but.. i am more curious on how in general people think beginnings should go? I know there are a million different ways and no two are exactly the same, i am just curious how you all feel about beginnings...

    What are your hang ups with them, your fears, how do you approach them???

    Me personally beginnings are the writing version of the "cock" block, and it kills more stories than i care to admit before they are ever written. I feel like no beginning will have the.. stroke of perfection that i am looking for it to have, and every once in a while i will find that i have struck beginning gold, but most times i still feel like it is luck rather than skill.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    One hard thing is finding a balance between giving away too much and giving away too little. Giving away too little will probably not keep the reader's interest for long, and giving away too much will give the reader a hunch as to how the story might end.

    As for my beginnings, they usually start with an action (a character doing something or something happening) rather than description. I believe in delving right into the action. Then, as the story progresses, my character encounters objects and/or events which trigger memories pertaining to that certain object or event, thus giving the reader more info on the character. This is something known as involuntary memory, and I find it quite useful.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I too believe in beginning with a character doing something. I don't use any more description than necessary to establish the setting and mood, and I never start with background.

    Establish a point of view and nail yourself to it. When a character is engaged in an activity, his (or her) mind is on that activity, not on his childhood, or how his society developed, and not on his hair and eye color.

    Get the reader comfortable with that character before trying to throw more characters into the mix. If other characters must be in the opening scene, make them part of the POV character's surroundings; don't try to get to know the others now, save that for later. Stay nailed to your POV character's presence no matter what in those critical starting paragraphs.

    Your opening POV character need not be your story's main character though. It could even be someone who dies in that scene, or has some other connection to the main character or to the central plot. It might even be someone who will show the MC to the reader, and then depart from the story forever.
     
  4. Kylie
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    Kylie Contributing Member

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    I agree. I usually start off with the character doing something. I try to introduce a little about the personality, the way he/she thinks, and the setting. I always try to introduce only one character in the first scene, that way the reader doesn't feel like a whole load of bricks have just been dropped on them.

    The first scene is where I set my 'boundaries' (not really boundaries, but that's how I think of it.)

    Personally, writing the beginnings of the stories is as exciting as writing the end. I really enjoy using my imagination to start the story.
     
  5. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    I hate beginnings. They are the reason I'm not writing at this very moment =(

    But I usually start off with a character doing something too, but it never gets much farther than that until I realize it's going nowhere.
     
  6. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    Beginning are where all the fun is! But then I suck at writing middles so I would say that. Sympathies to Alex_Hartman, middles are the reason I'm not writing at this moment (ooh and work)

    I agree that beginnings should start with action but I sometimes find that it's the build up to the action that I prefer to start with. All the tension and suspense is great because your MC is feeling it too. So you're both hurled head long into the action together. :p

    Eg. sitting in the plane three seconds before you parachute out onto the battlefield. or the moment before the doors open and you walk out into the party. You've got just enough time to hear your MC's heart beat and then you're away. Plus sharing their private thoughts for a moment is nice, makes you close.

    God, I love writing! :) :D
     
  7. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    It's something I don't tend to have to think about much, but I just realized that on the occasions I do have to think about how to start a story, I often start in the middle of some kind of action, to get the reader wondering what exactly is going on/what this character is doing and why. Though of course, I quickly get into the why of it so the reader isn't left wondering for too long--and the action always pertains to the main plot. For example, one story of mine literally started with a character punching the MC and knocking him to the ground.

    I imagine this works in certain stories and doesn't in others. Every story needs to start in its own way; as for how you determine what that way is, I'm afraid I couldn't tell you.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    have none; have none; approach each one independently, not always the same way...

    basically, a beginning will just 'come' to me and i just go from there... it might be the first sentence, or just a phrase... or could be an entire scene...
     
  9. CommonGoods
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    CommonGoods Senior Member

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    Personally, I think the start is always the hardest as well; how much do you tell, who do you introduce, what image do you create in those first vital ten lines.

    Personally I'm a huge fan of flashbacks, prologues or other pieces of text before the actual story.

    You may wanna take a look at the Tawny Man triologie of Hobbs. He starts every chapter with a small fragment of a book or letter from the Six Duchies universe. Brilliant, IMO
     
  10. Daisy
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    Daisy New Member

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    I love the beginnings more than anything else and like the previous posters usually start with the character in the middle of some kind of action or interaction that will affect the rest of the story. I do normally have at least one other character in the first scene and get into dialog between them as soon as I can get past a short set up of the setting. In this way, the readers can get to know my MC through his interaction and responses to the other character.

    I love the endings as much as the beginnings, but like Little Miss, I suck at middles. I have four or five novels with beginnings and endings going, ten more in my head, and no middles for any of them.
     
  11. Prodigy
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    Prodigy Member

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    Whenever I write a beginning, I usually begin with an "Attention grabber". I usually start with one calm tone descriptive enough to make the reader fall into it, then suprise them with a tone completly opposite to what the first tone lead them to think. Like at first a peaceful tone, then quickly change to a war tone or something like that. And somewhere in the first paragraph I'll put in some forshadowing that comes into view in the next paragraph. I love making the reader think one thing, then change it completely. I never really open up dialog. Usually the landscape around the character.
     

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