1. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    Where to Begin: Starting a Story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by aimi_aiko, Jun 30, 2011.

    I've recently had my share of research time and studying of simply: how to begin a story? I have (in the past, as well as currently) thrown away, or "set aside" several stories and/or plot creations. I have reasons as to why I have done so, but each story shares one most common reason of all - Not knowing how to begin my story

    In discovering my sudden frustration about all of these stories I had thrown away, I've decided to start clean, fresh and new and renew my document folder containing all the stories and plot creations that I have abandoned. In doing so, I've also wanted to start fresh on a new plot idea.

    Within the little bit of research I had accomplished a few minutes ago, I had learned something quite interesting. In order to begin (or start) your story, you have to go by the three I's:

    -Intriguing
    -Interesting
    -Inviting

    I have learned, that with each of these guidelines, you will be able to (hopefully) start your story without a bunch of mad frustration.

    Yes, every writer experiences that time of when writing that first sentence, it is the hardest and most important part of the entire story. (I've been told by others that it is also hard to end it as well) It is very common among authors and writers that "screwing up" the beginning will only cause the story to belong in the trash.


    So, what I would love to know, is:

    -How do you begin your story?
    -How long does it usually take to find the right beginning?
    -What techniques (if any) do you use?
    -Which of the I's (if not all) do you use the most?


    Source of research: http://www.suite101.com/content/beginning-the-story-a98254
     
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  2. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    How I begin my story? I don't, actually. When I get an idea, I let it grow in my head until it's either dead and forgotten, or I'm happy about it and start writing it. This can take hours or months, or years in some cases. Sometimes I find it right away. Other times I don't find it at all. But that's what drafts are for. When I write a story, I write it from start to finish without worrying about inconsistency, finding the "correct" words, finding a good enough beginning and all that. The important part is finishing the story. Once the first draft is done, I print everything, wait a few days to get some distance from it and sit down with the printed version and a pen. I read through the story to see what needs to be changed, including the beginning. If there's something I'm not happy with, I cross it out. If something needs change, I make a little note. Afterwards, I go back to the document on the computer and make all the changes from the printout.

    As for the I's... I didn't know there was any. :redface: At least I haven't thought about it. I think the first page should be good enough to make the reader want to read the entire chapter, and the chapter should be good enough to make him want to read the book. And once the book is done, make him want another one. Always make the reader want more. ;)
     
  3. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    I start by introducing a major theme or idea I intend to integrate into the story, whether it is with written with major or minor characters.

    The beginning is usually the last thing I finalize.

    I just write it over and over again, until I get a beginning that I find respectable.

    Intriguing and inviting.
     
  4. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I usually begin randomly, just introducing the characters. As I usually plan quite a bit ahead, my beginnings stay pretty much the same even when I'm done.

    Depends a little on the story, but most often, very quickly. That's usually the first that comes to me when thinking of a story, and for some reasons, beginnings are rarely hard for me. Neither are endings. It's the middle that's the big problem for me...

    I'm not sure if I use any techniques. If I do, it's not consciously.

    I try to use all, but it's not something I think about.
     
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  5. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I usually write a vague beginning -- beginnings are difficult for me. I usually have scenes in the middle or the end written much clearly, and I work backwards from there.
     
  6. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    aimi, I think you provided your own answer in response to someone else's post moments ago. Start by writing down your awareness of the story, where you see the beginning. Just put the words down on the page. Get it out of your head and onto your screen (or paper). Once you do that and run out of wind in your sails for a bit, go back and find what you feel is the most compelling part of what you have written. THAT is the beginning of your story. Then comes the hard part... finding the best words with which to convey that.

    For me, usually, the story concept comes to me somewhat complete. Not the words and the scenes and other minutiae, but the general concept of the story. Often my beginning will change a dozen times before I am satisfied with it but that could mean a couple of years of re-working. Sometimes, I feel like I nail it right out of the gate. Quite a happy event. In any case, the best thing to do is to just get started. Don't sweat it too much because you can always go back and change it during rewrites. And the pressure of trying to get it perfect from the start can well drive you crazy.
     
  7. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Getting the beginning 'right' has been quite a challenge for me in the past. I learned a lot by experimenting and the best step I took was deleting the overlong prologue I'd initially written.

    But actually, the very opening sentence for my current ms came to me years ago when I was toying with some ideas. I've kept it still the same. That wasn't so hard. It sets the scene by introducing the main setting first ('Government Square'). I thought it works as it almost gives the impression of it being a 'character' in itself, as the place has a lot of symoblic significance throughout the story. If I had to choose from your list, I'd say it is 'intriguing', hopefully.

    What came after was more difficult - knowing how much background detail to give, how to introduce the main character smoothly etc. Again I'd advise you to just write. You may find you'll change your mind many times about the opening (and everything else!), but it's part of the journey. :)
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with you on the beginnings, mine are rarely a problem either, at least not as for where to begin but then of course I still have to polish it to make it the best it can be, but it never gives me any problems. The beginning is the first thing I see when coming up with the story itself. if there is a problem it's the middle, as you said too.
     
  9. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    If this formula works for you, that's great. But you do want to be careful not to fall into that formulaic writing. If everything you write opens essentially the same way, it will come to feel almost scripted. There was an American rock group from wayyy back - even before my time! They had three hit records but they became something of a joke because all of their songs were basically the same one. Some clever tech guy filtered their lyrics and the music and then overlayed the music with each of their three hits. They all sounded the same. The music really was the same 4/4 time, same tempo, same everything. People never really knew which of the three hits they were listening to on the radio because each subsequent song was just a carbon copy of the original.

    If you open all of your stories the same way, you run the risk of falling into this same trap. Sometimes, it is a good idea to stretch beyond what is easy and comfortable and familiar. Reach outside that comfort zone and try something new and different. You might discover that, although you may need to work a little harder, you'll find greater satisfaction in doing that something new with your writing.
     
  10. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    -How do you begin your story?
    Generally, I jump right into the thick of the story. Unless the story calls for something different, the trigger event is always a wise place to begin.

    -How long does it usually take to find the right beginning?
    If I know the story better than the back of my hand, it flows naturally. If I don't, I experiment with beginnings until I find one I like.

    -What techniques (if any) do you use?
    No techniques.

    -Which of the I's (if not all) do you use the most?
    "I's"???
     
  11. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    With words and thoughts.

    Not long. I write when the mood strikes me, so the words are already there.

    Grammar and all associated forms.

    I don't know. I think about writing the story more than I think about all that stuff. If it ends up having any of the I's, lucky me. If not, I'll write something else. I've got the rest of my life to write novels. I'm not particularly fussy if some time gets wasted on it, since I enjoy it.
     

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