1. Russo
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    Russo Member

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    Starting Your Story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Russo, Oct 29, 2014.

    The one thing that I've always struggled with when writing is starting the story. I had my rough draft in my lap, but I cannot call it a rough draft if there is nothing written. I sat with blank papers and a pen tapping nervously awaiting the ink to meet the paper. I pondered, shall I introduce the character first? No, should I introduce the conflict? Damn, should I introduce the setting? But what if it doesn't catch the attention of the reader? *pen still tapping nervously* I should really introduce the character...but how? Should I introduce her in her daily routine? Or should I introduce her along with the conflict?

    These are the thoughts dancing in my head and I close my binder and toss it aside. What the hell?! I can't even begin my story, how the hell is it going to be written if I have no beginning? I sit in silence, no distractions, only myself and my thoughts. This has always been the hardest part of writing for me... always. I've been writing for approximately 12 years and I still consider myself a novice because 1) I have trouble starting the story and 2) apparently I have issues in verb tense (but that's for another thread sometime).

    I guess the question is... how do you begin your story and do you have just as much trouble as I am currently having?
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Get something down. You can edit it later, but for now, get some ink on that white page.

    Introduce the character and the conflict. If you need to give some depth to the character, or introduce her daily routine, do it later. Do it now and you risk the reader losing interest in her.
     
  3. Fippmeister
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    Fippmeister New Member

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    I usually start my stories at the first point I can think of. Then I write from there and go back to make a more interesting introduction when the story is done.
    Most of the time I find a better starting point as I write. Other times, the stories turn out so long that the readers will accept a slow boil. But there's no point in trying to figure that out until I know the rest of the story.
     
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  4. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't have to start at the beginning. If you have one section or scene clearly in mind, write that.
     
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  5. Russo
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    Russo Member

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    @Shadowfax I've thought about introducing herself and the conflict together, however, I don't want to "ruin" the entire story in one sentence. How can I avoid that?
     
  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure...it sounds as if you want to "save" the conflict up for a big final scene...but unless there's some conflict earlier, the reader is going to get bored and wander off.
    If you do need to save up the big conflict, give her a smaller one.
     
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  7. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    Here's a thought: you can't ruin the entire story in one line. The reader gives you at least three or four sentences, and at best the whole page before they make a final decision, and they will most likely read the blurb before they even look at your books contents. Just relax.

    This is what I do: Think about your character's personality. Give them an event, be it good or bad, and depending on how they feel about it, have them voice an opinion on it. Most of the time the story ends up going from there for me and the character take's control of themselves, with my fingers just translating what they tell me onto the keyboard.

    Examples:

    For personality:

    I laughed in the face of Death. And not a wimpy, childish giggle; this was a full out belly laugh. "You... you what?"

    He glared at me with those dark, hollow eyes. Eyes that would petrify any ordinary mortal. "I need you to leave." he repeated.

    (had to :rofl: this scene has been in my head for ages but i have absolutely no clue about the story behind it yet.)

    For conflict:

    Blood. Flame. Smoke. The air was thick with it, choking my senses and threatening to overwhelm me with the fear that had already taken over the others. My claws scrabbled against the sleek bark of a tree, slid, then caught. In the next instant I was in the highest branches, wings spread and struggling for balance. But though I knew him, knew his nature, it was still mine to deny that he had ever done anything wrong.

    That he had destroyed the world I had created.

    (perspective of a creature similar to a griffin if anyone's confused. it's a battle between a god of creation and a god of destruction.)


    Overall, just sink yourself into your character's perspective. Think about the very instant they are in or the sensation, sight, smell, touch, or anything really.
     
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  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What makes you think you're gonna ruin it?

    And introducing the character with the conflict - no one's saying start like this: "Mary was being pursued by the Mafia, because her husband owed them money, but the money could save Mary's daughter because her child really needed treatment, which was only available in Amsterdarm."

    If you really think you could start and finish an entire story in ONE SENTENCE, perhaps what you're looking at is micro- or flash fiction. Or perhaps you don't have enough story to write a book with.

    To give an example of introducing the character with the conflict, maybe I could say, "Mary was sipping coffee when her house exploded." (assuming the cause of the explosion was part of the main plot and Mary is the MC) All you need is an opening that makes people ask questions and write it in a simple enough or smooth enough way to make people keep reading.

    Stop asking how you can avoid "ruining" the story and get writing. And be glad when you actually have something to "ruin". But I'd have a little faith in yourself and realise that perhaps you're not going to "ruin" it. Perhaps you're actually gonna create something worth reading - and if anything doesn't come out just right, well, that's what editing and rewriting are for :)

    Go write. You'll be fine. Hugs.
     
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  9. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Another thing you can try is writing a couple of intros. Don't go longer than a page. Contrast styles and brave a couple of critiques. What are the reader's thought in comparsion to your own? Is this method a little more work, yes, but the results can be surprising.

    If you use music, find pieces that fit the tone of your piece. For the first couple minutes, just listen. What story is the music telling, how is it relating to your character. What is the first thing about your story that pops into your mind? Are they alone, if not, who is with them? Actions, facial expression, their thoughts? Their emotions: angry, frightened, what? Take that first idea, seize it and run. Even if it isn't the direction you didn't intend to go. That is your intution speaking. Listen to it.

    Don't worry about grammar or mechanics. Just write. You are the reporter of the being's actions, you have to keep following.

    Example of a first thought:

    "She doesn't have a pulse? How can that be?" Myles demanded, confused. There was no life without a heartbeat, yet here was Angel, semiconscious and breathing.

    His mind flew back to past encounters with her, mining his memories for details. Always, there had been others about, the thundering of their hearts covering the stillness of hers. But he was darkkin, he saw what others overlooked. How could he have missed this?

    A dark scowl marred his brows. The library and its utter stillness, the icy sill where she had huddled, impervious to the bone cracking cold.

    What in hell was happening? Who was this girl he thought he knew? To hell with who, what was she?

    The first thing to pop into your head. Write and follow. If it's the beginning, great, if it's a later sequence, run with it. It is a plot point in the dot to dot that is writing. You will make the connections.
     
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  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Here's the key - don't let yourself get overwhelmed it's only a first draft. There's no way you can get off on the wrong foot ( so to speak ) because nobody has to see it until it's polished. It's like layers in a painting. The first looks like a muddy mess. And even if the beginning sucks you can trim it like a hangnail. I've started stories - didn't like the beginnings and chopped them off during the second draft and turned the second chapter with a few polishing tweaks into the beginning. It happens. That's why editing is wonderful. It can turn mistakes into masterpieces - :)

    When I start I always think of a scene that is going to help anchor my reader in the story. Allow him to get a vibe on what this story is about. I like to do a bit of setting ( makes a reader feel secure knowing where the hell he is ) and something hinging on something - maybe it's a problem, or a change - that could provoke a reader's interest.

    Your opening sentence doesn't have to be stellar it just needs to establish some facts - for my prison story I started off with - Collie got a new roomie - which if people read the 'blurb' knowing it's a prison story would know just from that sentence that this is what the conflict is going to be about this new 'roomie.'

    A good way to get in the mood is to surround yourself with things that provoke you into thinking about your story. Some artwork, some pictures maybe of where your story takes place, some music, maybe a favorite book that inspires you to write. I have folders on my computer filled with pictures for each story - it's quite helpful.

    And if all else fails start with your characters name and have her want or need something small in the first sentence. i.e. - Sheila wanted to leave New York. Sheila desperately needed a triple latte.
     
  11. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    this sounds weird (but im weird, so this kinda cancells it out) but put some music on (hell, even put your ipod/phone on shuffle) and listen to music, close your eyes and visualise it, i use a computer and can touch type, so it makes my life a little easier. but then as soon as something starts to formulate, capture it and write it down. you can always go back and edit it at a later date.
     
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  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Think about which event in your story that corrisponds to that first domino that will gonna make all the others start falling, and start as close to that event as you can. It doesn't have to be in the first sentence but there will have to be something that grab the readers interest right from the start, and preferably something that has a connection to the overall story. If it helps you can think in terms of The Day Something Happens That Changes Everything.
     
  13. jonahmann
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    jonahmann Active Member

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    You could try planning the story before you start.
     

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