1. CrystalDreamer59
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    CrystalDreamer59 Active Member

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    How Should I Begin My Story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by CrystalDreamer59, Jan 22, 2013.

    I know this might sound funny, but I'm going to write a story about a forest planet and I have no Idea how to begin my story. I have thought of something like, faw away in a solar system not that different from our own there was a forest planet. However to me that intro seems a bit too much like star wars or a fairy tale and I want something different. Any Ideas.
     
  2. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    What is happening on this forest planet? What is so interesting about it? What/who lives there and what are they doing that we should care about. Start there.
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    In many ways, the beginning is the most important part of your story, since you need to make readers want to read the rest of it. That means that you'll be revisiting the beginning many times. Go ahead and write the rest of the story. You may find your beginning a chapter or two in. Or you might find you need to change the beginning to better suit where the story ends up. Therefore, you shouldn't get too hung up on the beginning and paralyze your writing. Just go ahead and write it, even if you don't love the beginning, knowing that you'll change it later. It's more important to get into the groove of writing and to see how your story shapes up.
     
  4. CrystalDreamer59
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    CrystalDreamer59 Active Member

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    I haven't given much thought about this story yet. It's based on a forest planet I would talk about to my mom when I was really little, probably about four years old. Anyway, I guess I'll start in the middle as you have suggested and then see what I can come up with for a beginning later. I seem to do best starting with the middle of a story anyway.
     
  5. john murphy
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    john murphy Member

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    Start with something that is an immediate threat to either the planet, the forest, the main character. It will jump start the reader's interest/suspense to find to find how the threat works out. How big or small the threat can be dictated by the scope of the story. If it's about walking and talking with your mother, the threat could be as simple as a secret spot in the forest that is discovered, washed away, burned, destroyed by boys, etc.
     
  6. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    I suppose the best way to find a beginning for your story is to know what you want to accomplish with your story.
    I do know, that in a movie I watched, they started the movie with roots exploding from a forest that had been grown on the moon. The roots then took the form of a dragon, and then decended to earth where nature had taken over Earth. It was actually a really good movie that I tend to go back and watch time and time again. It's something to consider for an idea, just to give you a bit of groundwork on how you can use major points in the story as a beginning. I don't want to spoil the movie, but we later find out that the beginning we seen, the moon forest growing out of control, played an important part in the story and actually acted as an answer to some of the main questions.
     
  7. Tanelorn
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    Tanelorn New Member

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    Possibly start with story. If the story is about the planet then begin by telling about the planet. If the story about the denizens of the planet then begin with the denizens. If the story is about the goings on of the denizens then begin with that. Add details of the planet once people care enough to want to know.
     
  8. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    What is the conflict? Just off the top of my head maybe there is a barren planet always looking for fuel...that fuel is WOOD. Isn't that similar to that Avatar? OK scratch that.

    Setting is great and all but I'm not sure that's where I would start.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    An advantage of starting with a conflict is that it can showcase how a character responds to a challenge. It need not be a life and death crisis. It can be as simple as rushing to an interview on a hot, muggy day, and arriving soaked in sweat. How does the character deal with this crisis? Does she get flustered and blow the interview? Does she put up a bold front and act as if nothing is the matter? Does she apologize, or perhaps make a joke?

    It's not the only way to begin, but it's a good one.
     
  10. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    Agreed. And building off the OP, I would say you should use that desire to create a story about that Forest Planet. What if it was a myth? What if someone was told about this planet and that somehow it would solve all their problems? What if that someone decided to go and find this planet? What if someone was waiting for someone on that planet?

    You could even start off with your little tale. "When I was a child my mother told me of a place..."
     
  11. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    How you start your story depends on the tone you want to establish and your experience with writing.

    You can write in third person or first, following a single character or observe the narrative as a whole, focus on personal or plot developments, there are several ways to begin.

    - Describe a peaceful scene to establish the world pre-conflict
    - Describe a scene of conflict, then explain the details as the story continues
    - Start with a conversation
    - Start with someone not central to the plot, but related to future developments
    - Open with a reflective monologue, either musing at what the future holds or looking back on events that have already occurred

    How you determine what HAPPENS in a story... well, that's rather up to you. If you're new to writing, start with the basics: Establish characters, a crisis, a source of the crisis and a journey to resolve this crisis. Characters make discoveries about the world and themselves, grow as people and emerge at the end wiser and stronger for the experience. You get the idea.
     
  12. PaulKemp24
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    Just like how Snoopy starts his story on the Red Baron --

    "It was a dark and stormy night..."
     
  13. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    Don't over think the problem.

    You don't have to write the greatest intro of all time.

    Begin with something intriguing/funny/sad/exciting/etc.
     
  14. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    The following words from an article on Writer's Digest written by Jacob M. Appel:

    On this day in 1873, writer and politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton died. One thing he left behind: The first line from his novel Paul Clifford: “It was a dark and stormy night …”

    The sentence went on to serve as the literary posterchild for bad story starters, and it also became the inspiration behind the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which writers compete for top honors by penning egregiously bad fake first lines. (That said, Bulwer-Lytton’s work wasn’t all bad—after all, he gave us the quote “the pen is mightier than the sword” with his play Richelieu.)
    Reflecting on awful first lines (and, admittedly, drinking out of this delightful Great First Lines of Literature Mug) got me thinking about the inverse. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite openings. Share yours in the Comments below.

    The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.
    —Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

    A screaming comes across the sky.
    —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

    It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
    —George Orwell, 1984

    It was a pleasure to burn.
    —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

    The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.
    —Stephen King, The Gunslinger

    Mother died today.
    —Albert Camus, The Stranger

    The flash projected the outline of the hanged man onto the wall.
    —Arturo Perez-Reverte, The Club Dumas

    This is a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast.
    —Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

    I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
    —Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

    If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.
    —Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

    Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
    —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

    True! – nervous – very, very nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?
    —Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

    If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
    —J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

    I am a sick man … I am a spiteful man.
    —Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

    We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.
    —Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    It was love at first sight.
    —Joseph Heller, Catch 22

    Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.
    —Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey
    So, what goes into a great first line? We commissioned writer Jacob M. Appel to do a piece for the magazine on this very subject. Here are some tips from his article “Better Starts for Better Stories” (check out the full piece here):

    7 WAYS TO START by Jacob M. Appel


    1. A statement of eternal principle.
    This technique is a staple of European classics. Think of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”) and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”). Of course, the story or novel you write must confirm the proposed principle. If it turned out that Mr. Darcy didn’t want to wed, or that Anna was happily married, these openings would certainly leave readers wanting. (An excellent contemporary example is from Jane Hamilton’s The Book of Ruth: “What it begins with, I know finally, is the kernel of meanness in people’s hearts. …”)
    2. A statement of simple fact.
    The entire weight of the narrative can sometimes be conveyed in a single statement. Think of, “I had a farm in Africa” (Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa) or, “It was a pleasure to burn” (Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451) or, “I am an invisible man” (Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man). No gimmicks. No fireworks. Just—as Mr. Gradgrind demands in the opening line of Charles Dickens’ Hard Times—the facts.
    3. A statement of paired facts.
    In many cases, two facts combined are more powerful than either one on its own. The paradigmatic example is the opening line of Carson McCullers’ The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter: “In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together.” A town with two mutes is not necessarily compelling, nor are two inseparable men. But a town with two inseparable mutes? Now that locks in our interest.
    4. A statement of simple fact laced with significance.
    Because readers don’t read backward, it’s possible to bury a key piece of a story in an opening so that, by the time it becomes relevant, the reader has forgotten it. Agatha Christie mysteries do this often. The key to solving the crime in Murder on the Orient Express, for example, is embedded innocuously in the opening sentence. So is the key to the heroine’s psyche in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, the opening of which explains, “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful. …”
    5. A statement to introduce voice.
    “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.” Vladimir Nabokov’s celebrated opening is not designed to convey characterization or plot, though both are present, so much as to introduce his distinctive style. Anthony Burgess opens A Clockwork Orange (“What’s it going to be then, eh?”) without any plot, characterization or setting at all—merely the ominous voice that will accompany the reader through the text. Stories that begin with a highly unusual voice often withhold other craft elements for a few sentences—a reasonable choice, as the reader may need to adjust to a new form of language before being able to absorb much in the way of content.
    6. A statement to establish mood.
    Contextual information not directly related to the story can often color our understanding of the coming narrative. Take Sylvia Plath’s opening to The Bell Jar: “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” While the Rosenberg execution has nothing to do with the content of the narrative, it sets an ominous tone for what follows.
    7. A statement that serves as a frame.
    Sometimes, the best way to begin a story is to announce that you’re about to tell a story. English storytellers have been doing this since at least the first recorded use of the phrase “Once upon a time” in the 14th century. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn starts off this way, as does J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. After all, a brilliant opening can be as straightforward as: “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler …” (which really does start exactly that way).
     
  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Wrong book and author :redface:
     

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