1. Pooker
    Offline

    Pooker New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Cranston, Rhode Island

    Need help with beginning a story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Pooker, Aug 13, 2013.

    I am new to taking writing seriously. I am having difficulty starting my stories because I'm looking for the perfect opening sentence. What works best for you when starting a new story?
     
  2. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    What works best for me is to just start writing in a free, train-of-though manner. Accept that you may need a "warm up" period before you have an idea of where the story really starts. This isn't everyone's writing process; I can only give you my own perspective. That perfect opening line may come to you a few paragraphs or even pages into the writing.
     
  3. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Beginnings are some of the hardest things to get right in a story. Don't worry about it yet -- just start it and write. Then you can go back and work on the beginning. But if you start out trying to get the perfect beginning, you'll never get past it.
     
  4. Thomas Kitchen
    Offline

    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2012
    Messages:
    1,258
    Likes Received:
    422
    Location:
    I'm Welsh - and proud!
    I find that for an opening sentence, dialogue is best for me. It is instantly relatable, and if quirky enough, can also get the reader's attention. For example:

    "Mom, the dog's flying again! Should I get the treats and lure him down?"

    Now, this instantly gets my attention, and as a plus it's also lightly humourous. But remember that all stories are different so I don't always use dialogue. Just experiment. Think of an action or event and write it first as a dialogue/conversation and then as description/narrative. Try writing serious stuff and more humourous stories and events. It won't be long before you find your style.

    But as Wreybies and Chicagoliz said, don't worry to much about the beginning at first. Just get your story down and worry about perfecting it later. You'll enjoy the telling of the story more and you won't get worked up about that first sentence/paragraph/chapter. :)
     
  5. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,332
    Likes Received:
    3,084
    Funny, its only when I know exactly how my story will start, that I feel an uncontrollable urge to write. Otherwise, nothing gets written. If a first sentence isn't rushing out at you, I'd let the story simmer longer.
     
  6. Smitty91
    Offline

    Smitty91 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2013
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Bowling Green, KY
    There are many ways to start a story. You can start a story through dialogue, action, a simple statement, a character's description, etc. Don't muse over it too much. Just let it come naturally and the rest of the story should follow.
     
  7. Kammygirl
    Offline

    Kammygirl New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    I never start with beginning. When I start writing it is usually somewhere in the middle. As I'm writing I am constantly answering the question "why is this happening". That is what always leads me to my opening paragraph. I realize this may not work for most people. But I wonder how many writers actually start with that first line. And if many do, I wonder how many times that line changes.
     
  8. JetBlackGT
    Offline

    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    465
    Likes Received:
    158
    Location:
    Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
    It depends on what you are writing :)

    Summer reading? You'll want a couple-three deaths on the first few pages.

    Ditto for detective or murder mystery novels.

    Historical, non-fiction is typically written chronologically, but with a preview of the main event, followed by the slow, plodding steps that lead up to it.
     
  9. erebh
    Offline

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,618
    Likes Received:
    464
    Location:
    Sacramento
    Your perfect opening sentence doesn't matter right now. I would wager your story is going to change so many times by the time you've finished you'll hardly recognise it. I was 60,000 words into my book and went right back and put a whole new chapter at the start so my original opening line is now chapter 2 - well buried!

    If you're stressing on hitting that perfect prime note you'll never sing the song...
     
  10. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,681
    Likes Received:
    2,533
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    What openings grab you the most when you read? Here are some of my favorites:

    "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.
    "I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific...but people always get in the way." - James A. Michener, Tales of the South Pacific.
    "Mother died today. Or was it yesterday? I'm not sure." - Albert Camus, The Stranger.
    "It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see them blackened and changed." - Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451.
    "He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream, and it had been eighty-four days since he had taken a fish." - Earnest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea.
    "It was love at first sight." - Joseph Heller, Catch-22.

    Hope this helps.
     
  11. NigeTheHat
    Online

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    Messages:
    756
    Likes Received:
    569
    Location:
    London
    Write the bits you do have in your head. Stories don't have to be written first word to last, and sometimes you need to know where you're going before you can work out how to take the reader there.
     
  12. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    I changed my opening at least 5 times before I got my perfect one. Seriously, don't wait for the perfect opening sentence. Only after you've done at least the full rough draft will you have any real idea as to how your story should really start.

    Also, not all stories lend itself to amazing opening sentences - don't dwell on it too much. Make sure it's interesting, it gets readers asking good questions, and that it's easy to read.

    Personally, nothing switches me off faster than an opening sentence that's not easy to read. I can forgive openings like "It was ten o'clock in the morning" much more than I can forgive sentences like:

    So my personal golden rule? Make sure your opening is easy to read. I don't mean it has to have simple concepts and necessarily simple words (though too many foreign words won't do you many favours), but the structure and flow are very important.

    Anyway, just start wherever you're comfortable with, and keep going til you're finished. Then go back and scratch your head over how to perfect the opening, or you'll simply never start. The opening changes so many times anyway that it's really not worth expending too much energy into it at the beginning stages.
     
  13. Pooker
    Offline

    Pooker New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Cranston, Rhode Island
    Thank you all for taking the time to reply. And thanks for the good advice. As a newbie I appreciate the guidance.:)
     
  14. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,601
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    I didn't settle on the beginning of my story until I was 2/3 done with it. Definitely write the story and worry about the perfect opening after your story is more fully formed.

    That's interesting because I wrote out the whole 2 book duology that I'm writing in a month and now almost 2 years later I'm getting closer to finishing the first book. The original story has been the outline all along but the details have changed considerably. And I really struggled with the beginning because the story evolves around young adults but there were a lot of childhood scenes I didn't want to short change. So the story structure took a lot of work even though the story itself is clear.
     

Share This Page